What is Anal Incontinence?

Anal incontinence is the loss of bowel control, which results in leakage of gas or stool through the anus. It is sometimes called accidental bowel leakage and can range from difficulty controlling gas (flatal incontinence) to difficulty controlling stool (fecal incontinence). Anal incontinence affects 1 in 10 women and may occur as fecal urgency and/or passive stool leakage without women even being aware of it. Some women develop anal incontinence after childbirth, while others may develop it later in life.

Anal incontinence can be very distressing, and women are often reluctant and embarrassed to talk about it. However, there are many lifestyle changes, medical, and surgical treatments that can help treat anal incontinence.

What are Anal Incontinence or Accidental Bowel Leakage Symptoms?

Each woman may experience anal incontinence symptoms differently.

Common symptoms of anal incontinence include:

  • Leakage of gas or stool
  • Urgency or inability to delay having a bowel movement
  • Stool leakage or smearing without awareness