Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence can cause embarassment, fear, and loneliness. Don't let that stop you from seeking help for this disorder. Contact Gail Cooper-Parks, RN, Health and Wellness Navigator, at (561) 263-4437 or by email gcooper-parks@jupitermed.com.

What You Should Know

Fecal incontinence, also called a bowel control problem, is the accidental passing of solid or liquid stool or mucus from the rectum. It affects nearly 18 million adults in the United States. This disorder can affect people of any age but is most commonly found in older adults and is slightly more common in women.

The inability to control your bowels can be upsetting and embarrassing. Many people feel ashamed and don’t want to discuss this problem. It is important to talk with your healthcare provider, because fecal incontinence is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of another problem. It is often treatable with lifestyle changes, medication or surgical repair of damaged sphincter muscles.

What Causes Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence includes the inability to hold a bowel movement until reaching a toilet as well as passing stool into one’s underwear without being aware of it happening.

The most common causes of fecal incontinence are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Muscle Damage or Weakness
  • Nerve Damage
  • Childbirth by Vaginal Delivery
  • Hemorrhoids and Rectal Prolapse


Symptoms can range from occasional leakage of stool (liquid or solid) and gas to the inability to hold a bowel movement until you reach the toilet. Other symptoms include diarrhea and constipation.


It is important that you see a physician to discuss your medical history, have a physical exam and discuss your symptoms. You may be referred to a physician who specializes in problems of the digestive tract such as a gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon.

They may suggest one or more of the following tests:

  • Anorectal Manomentry
  • Anal Ultrasound
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy or Colonoscopy
  • Anal Electromyography (EMG)

Treatment options include:

  • Dietary Changes
  • Bowel Training (rehab)
  • Medication
  • External Incontinence Devices
  • Surgical Repair

We Are Here To Help

The Center for Excellence in Digestive Health at Jupiter Medical Center can help you address this embarrassing issue. Our health navigator can assist you with finding a qualified physician to evaluate and treat this disorder. We have a full range of services to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder including:

  • Board Certified Physicians
  • Advanced Imaging Services
  • GI Lab Services including: anorectal ultrasound, anorectal manometry testing and colonoscopy
  • Nutrition Services
  • Rehab & Wellness including physical therapists that specialize in pelvic floor disorders.
  • Health Navigator
  • Education & Support