fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, causing leaks of stool into underwear. This pathology can occur in people of any age, however, women and older adults are the most affected by loss of strength in the rectal sphincter.

In fact, it should be borne in mind that certain factors such as anal sphincter pressure, rectal sensation and storage capacity influence the control of bowel movements. What it does, that, if any of these elements fails, it is difficult to prevent the stool from coming out at the least opportune moment.1

Fecal incontinence has multiple causes

  • In reality, fecal incontinence is mainly caused by damage to the muscles or nerves of the anus or rectum. But, this happens due to the effort that the intestines and digestive system are faced with, in the face of constipation or poorly hydrated stools. In addition, labor also requires additional effort in this area, becoming a possible cause.1
  • Likewise, the damage caused to the bone marrow; due to accidents, infections or tumors; or cerebrovascular lesions; produced by circulatory diseases; they can lead to fecal incontinence. Especially, because as a direct consequence, the sensory preservation of this area or the motor function of the rectum and anus may be affected.2
  • In the same way, the weakening of the pelvic floor in women due to childbirth, postpartum or menopause, can affect the firmness of the rectal sphincter muscle. Furthermore, when it is accompanied by periods of constipation; cataloged as micro deliveries; that gradually weaken the firmness of the structures of these organs.2
  • Similarly, rectal prolapse, rectocele, and ulcerative colitis have also been considered among the possible causes of fecal incontinence. Above all, because they cause weakness in the anal, vaginal and intestinal strip. At the same time, they generate a constant inflammation of the walls and cells that make up this part of the body.

What can be done?

It is clear that medical consultation should be the first option for the patient with this disorder. Above all, because the health professional uses diagnostic aids that evaluate the strength of the sphincter and the existence of structural abnormalities. In addition, the tension, sensitivity and functioning of the anus and rectum are studied,

In such a way, that, with the results, an adequate treatment adjusted to the individualized clinical picture can be established. Where, possibly antidiarrheal drugs are used to contain stool or laxatives if the problem is associated with constipation. Likewise, it is recommended to strengthen the pelvic and colorectal muscles, with hypopressive gymnastics or applying Kegel exercises.3

Also, sacral nerve stimulation is used; with a device of electric currents; to regulate rectal sensation and improve anal sphincter pressure. Similarly, radiofrequency therapy; minimally invasive; can help improve muscle tone. But, in chronic cases of fecal incontinence, it is necessary to go to surgical procedures, looking for a definitive correction.3


  1. Vergara A M. Teresa, Suárez M Juan, Orellana G Hernán, Cofré L Pamela, Germain P Fernando, Stanley E William et al. Adult fecal incontinence. Rev. Chil Cir [Internet]. Jun 2011 [citado2021 Jun 28]; 63 (3): 320-326. Available in: http://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0718-40262011000300016&lng=es.
  2. Margarita Vallès, Fermín Mearin. Intestinal disorders in patients with spinal cord injury. Rev. Gastrol. Hepat. [internet] 2012 [ consultado 28 jun 2021]; 35 (5): 330-336. Available in:


  1. Remes- Troche José Maía, Sáenz Pablo, Riaño Daniela, Valdovinos Miguel Ángel, Mercado Mauricio, Gutiérrez Robledo Luis Miguel et al. Fecal incontinence in older adults. Rev. invest. clin. [revista en la Internet]. 2004 Feb [citado 2021 Jun 28]; 56 (1): 21-26. Available in: