What is faecal incontinence?

What is faecal incontinence?

Faecal incontinence occurs when a person loses the ability to control their bowel movements, resulting in unplanned leakage of faeces. It is estimated that faecal incontinence affects up to 1 in 10 people at some time in their lives. They may have bowel accidents that are caused by not being able to get to a toilet quickly enough, or they may experience soiling or leaking from the bowel without being aware of it.

Faecal incontinence may have many different causes. It can be distressing and can severely affect everyday life. Many people with faecal incontinence find it very difficult and embarrassing to talk about it to doctors and nurses, or to tell their family and friends. Once faecal incontinence has been identified there are treatments that can help manage or sometimes cure it, as well as strategies to help people cope with the condition and discuss it openly.

Questions you might like to ask your healthcare team

  • Are there any organisations that could give me more information about faecal incontinence?

  • Are there any support organisations?

  • Can you provide any information for my family/carers?

  • Can you suggest ways I can tell my family and friends about my problem?