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Conditions

Bowel Incontinence

Faecal incontinence

It is said that bowel incontinence (sometimes called faecal or anal incontinence) is a sign or a symptom, not a diagnosis. It is the uncontrolled loss of solid or liquid stools, or wind (gas) with leakage, which occurs when the sphincter muscles and nerves in and around the rectum and anal canal are damaged (e.g. after childbirth or surgery), or become weaker (with age). Bowel incontinence affects 1% to 10% of adults and can seriously affect quality of life for most sufferers. Due to the nature of the condition it has largely been a hidden problem, with sufferers too embarrassed or ashamed to tell anyone about their symptoms. Bowel incontinence can affect anyone, but it is much more common in older people, particularly those with long-term health and mobility problems. There are a number of treatments for bowel incontinence (non-surgical and surgical) depending on the cause of the problem.

If you’re suffering from continence problems then you can watch a special webchat with Mr Andrew Clarke on Thursday 10th December at 2pm (GMT). Go to www.webchats.tv to submit your questions ahead of the live chat.

If you are worried that your child may be suffering from faecal incontinence, then read the special guide for parents on Embarrassing Bodies: Kids.

Comments and Questions

The EB doctors have been looking at your comments and have answered some of the common questions below. Remember that it is always best to check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.

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Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

Hi. I am a 17 year old girl from the north west and for a little under a year now I have blood and/or mucus in my stool every couple times I go. I also have a pain in my bum from time to time which could be normal, I dont know. I have a HUGE phobia of doctors and therefore I cant go in without being brought to tears. I am really starting to get worried now as different friends have said different things as to whether I should go to the doctors. Can you help me?





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I'm suffering with fecal incontinence for the last year or so. Sometimes it comes out and I don't realise it's happened. I've had a colonocopy and everything came back fine. This is still happening though and I need help and advice





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After I wipe myself really clean after a bowl movement, I find myself having slight soil in my anus after a while. Sometimes when I am stressful it leaks.Sometimes when am having sex. Also I find bright red blood in my anus. What could be wrong? It's been going on for maybe 2 years.





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I had anal fistula for some years and all the treatments failed so i went for fistulotomy . After surgery i am experiencing faecal and wind incontinence due to some damage to sphincter muscle. Its very embarassing and effecting my quality of life. my doc recommend me to do some pelvic exercise and he said it will get better with time. Its been 6 months now but my incontinence is not improving. Please let me know if someone help me with this .thanks





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Hi I have had a problem for quite a few years it is an fecal odor I get and its just sweat I shower 3 to 4 times a day and just cant get rid of the smell. does any one know of any occurrance of this as it is really embarrasing





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Is it over for me? I'm on transplant list. Little balls of poo just fall out and I don't know it's coming. I'm 52 and have PKD end stage , it happens out of nowhere. I'm so depressed .help.





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I have had three occasions since having a hysterectomy while having sex of bowel incontinence. All but the most recent (last week) I have been able to hide. I'm in a new relationship and this is when it happened. I'm worried about going to the doctors as you have to explain to the receptionist what the problem is and I don't want it broadcasting





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I have had a problem for many years after I have a wee , some of it leaks out afterwards. Also more recently I have found myself needing to hav a wee more often. I am 39 and have no medical issues/surgeries that might indicate a problem. A few months ago I went to the GP to explain my symptons. I got diagnosed with a urine infection but the leakage and frequent loo visits were a mystery to the GP. For now, I have to live with it.





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Im a 66yr old female and do a lot of walking , poo comes out in a normal form with no effott as I walk . I feel to ashamed to go to docs as I know him quite well ?





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I have had leakage since having had a tvt and starr operation due to a prolapse of bladder and bowel .I have been checked since and they say there is nothing they can find that would be causing it.So have to learn to live with it. But the hardest thing has been the reaction of some family members who ask me to take part in family outings and don't understand that there are good and bad days and on the bad days the toilet is my best friend and i have to say no





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