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Fecal Incontinence Causes

Fecal incontinence has a variety of causes, the most common being damage to the muscles in the anus that hold stool in the rectum. When these muscles lack strength, they may allow involuntary discharges that badly disrupt a person’s day-to-day life. These muscles can be damaged due to surgery, inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease), or trauma.

Another cause of fecal incontinence is damage to the nerves that control the muscles in the sphincter, resulting from a spinal cord injury, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or other conditions. Because the muscles or nerves in the anus can be damaged during childbirth, women are twice as likely as men to have issues with fecal incontinence.

Other causes of fecal incontinence include:

  • Impacted stool, which can weaken muscles in the intestines, allowing watery content from the upper intestinal tract to move down into the rectum
  • Severe diarrhea, which makes stool more difficult to retain
  • Overuse of laxatives, which can greatly increase a person’s risk of developing incontinence

Regardless of the cause or causes of fecal incontinence, an individual who is experiencing the condition can have the issue evaluated and treated at Tampa General Hospital’s Endoscopy Center.

At Tampa General, a team of surgeons, radiologists, dietitians, nurses, and other specialists works collaboratively to provide patients with highly personalized care. A wide array of treatment options are available for fecal incontinence, ranging from conservative options, such as medication, to the latest surgical procedures. Known for our skilled staff and use of advanced technology, Tampa General Hospital is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's best hospitals and highest ranked in Florida for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery.

To find a physician to treat fecal incontinence, access Tampa General Hospital’s Physician Finder or call 1-800-833-3627.