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Fecal incontinence – The Health Issue No One Wants To Talk About

In the realm of health and wellness, there are topics that remain taboo due to their sensitive nature.

Fecal incontinence, or leaking stool, is one such issue that is surprisingly prevalent, can happen to us as we age, and deserves a spotlight because no one should have to live with this condition when prevention and treatment exist to help.

Understanding Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence means that you are not able to hold your feces, or stool, until you get to a toilet. A distressing condition that impacts both men and women. The prevalence is more common than one might think.

One in 12 adults struggle with this condition, and for middle aged women specifically, it is an alarming 1 in 7.

How does our body keep us continent?

There are 3 parts in our body that keep us continent (not leaking) with our bowels.  Women and men have all 3 parts.

  • External Sphincter: You are in control of this sphincter. You can relax or tighten it to allow for control over bowel movements.
  • Internal Sphincter: Located deep in the anus, it functions involuntarily and stays contracted to prevent the passage of stool until it’s ready to be expelled from our body. The internal and external sphincters work together to release bowel movements.
  • Pelvic Floor Muscles: These muscles wrap around our sphincters and work as a “back-up mechanism” in case the sphincters can’t do their job. The stronger your pelvic floor, the better your “back-up mechanism” will work to keep you continent.

If 2 out of 3 of these body parts are not working well, you can begin to leak stool.

What causes fecal incontinence?

Various factors contribute to fecal incontinence, ranging from muscle weakness to nerve damage.

For women, childbirth can be a significant factor. In 30% of vaginal deliveries, the anal sphincters are ruptured. For these women, if their pelvic floor (the back-up mechanism) is still strong, they shouldn’t experience fecal incontinence, but as they age and lose muscle tone in their pelvic floor, they can start to leak stool.

Men, too, can experience fecal incontinence due to factors such as age-related muscle weakening, surgery, or neurological conditions.

How can I prevent or treat fecal incontinence?

Thankfully, there’s a beacon of hope to treat fecal incontinence or prevent it. We’ve all heard the importance of keeping our muscles strong as we age. The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that are often overlooked yet hold the key to our independence long term.

Sadly, incontinence (urine or stool) is the top reason for admission to long term care.  Taking steps now to strengthen your pelvic floor is critical to aging with dignity and keeping issues like fecal incontinence at bay.

UROSPOT is Canada’s largest provider of pelvic health.  Combining technology where you remain fully clothed, with education and health coaching, the team of experts at UROSPOT will help you build strength in your pelvic floor to treat or prevent all forms of incontinence.  The Health Canada approved technology contracts (strengthens) your pelvic floor muscles over 11,000 times in just 28 minutes.  It’s the easiest workout you will ever do.  Consultations are complimentary and treatment is partially covered by physiotherapy benefits.

Fecal incontinence may cast a shadow on one’s quality of life, but with solutions like UROSPOT, individuals can step out of the shadows and into the light with renewed confidence and freedom.


Whitehead W.E et at. Fecal Incontinence in US Adults: epidemiology and risk factors: Gastroenterology: 2009; 137:512-517