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Fecal Incontinence

What Is Fecal Incontinence?

Fecal incontinence occurs when an individual is unable to control their bowel movements, including leaking stool from the rectum. Several conditions can cause fecal incontinence, including:

Though fecal incontinence may cause embarrassing situations, it’s important to talk to a gastroenterologist so you can find relief.


There are two types of fecal incontinence that cause different symptoms:

  • Urge fecal incontinence – Individuals with urge fecal incontinence are unable to control bowel movements and often pass stool before they can reach a bathroom.

  • Passive fecal incontinence – Individuals with passive fecal incontinence do not always feel the urge to have a bowel movement and may be unaware they’ve passed stool.

Treatment Options

There’s no reason to live with fecal incontinence. Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist so you can find relief from your symptoms and live your life to its fullest. There are many treatment options for fecal incontinence, including:

  • Adjusting diet – Fiber can make stool bulky and easier to control. Your provider may also recommend limiting caffeine and drinking more water.

  • Medication – Over-the-counter laxatives and anti-diarrheal medicine can help control bowels.

  • Exercises – Pelvic floor exercises and other types of stretches can help strengthen the rectum and control bowel movements.

  • Sacral nerve stimulation – Small electrical impulses along the sacral nerve, which runs from the spinal cord to the pelvis, can help strengthen bowel muscles.

  • Surgery – Surgery may be needed to treat the cause of fecal incontinence, including damage from childbirth. Your gastroenterologist will discuss if surgery is an option for you.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of fecal incontinence, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat fecal incontinence.