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More information on Faecal Incontinence

Posted Jul 26 2010 8:25am

Whilst the taboo around discussing urinary incontinence and bladder weakness is slowly being overcome, faecal incontinence remains one of those topics that people avoid talking about still. However, many people have to live with it, and there’s a lot that you can do about it, here is some additional information to help you understand and manage the condition better.

Muscle Damage

Two ring-like muscles – the external and internal sphincter – help keep faeces inside your rectum. Most of the time, they perform their jobs well and there is never a problem. However certain situations can cause damage to those sphincters, making them weak and susceptible to leaking feces. In most cases, haemorrhoid surgery and childbirth are responsible for sphincter muscle damage.


Most people experience constipation – an inability to produce bowl movements – from time to time. Constipation is a major cause of fecal incontinence, which seems counterintuitive. However, the hard faeces that are unable to be expelled can become lodged in the rectum; looser stools can then slide out past the blockage, causing incontinence. Also, these hard faeces can sometimes cause damage to the sphincter muscles, making it more difficult for a person to make it to the bathroom in a timely manner.

Nerve Damage

When the nerves that sense stool in the rectum – or the nerves that control the external and internal sphincters – become damaged, faecal incontinence can occur. In the first case, your body is unable to warn you when faeces need to be expelled; many times, you only find out when it leaks out. In the second case, the nerves that are in charge of those sphincters don’t work properly, and incontinence occurs. Nerve damage in these areas can be caused by strokes, childbirth, a habit of straining exceptionally hard to pass stools, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and other conditions that affect nerves in the body.


Since diarrhea is loose and watery, it is more likely to leak out unexpectedly. Most of the time though, this is only a short-term condition.

Reduced Capacity

Inflammatory bowel disease, rectal surgery or radiation treatment can scar the inside of the rectum, making it less elastic. The reduced capacity then makes faecal incontinence much more likely to occur, since the rectum is unable to stretch to accommodate faeces.

No matter what the cause, it’s important to consult your health professional should you experience ongoing faecal incontinence to receive the correct diagnosis and support for your own condition. Use of Disposable Incontinence products such as Tena Pants Plus or Tena Pants Super can assist in managing the condition and reducing the effect of leaks. However as no product has yet been produced specifically for the absorption of solid matter then it is always advisable to change any product as soon as soiling has occurred to maintain freshness and skin condition .

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