Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
A number of factors may increase your risk of developing fecal incontinence, including:
- Age. Although fecal incontinence can occur at any age, it's more common in middle-aged and older adults. Approximately 1 in 10 women older than age 40 has fecal incontinence.
- Being female. Fecal incontinence is slightly more common in women than in men. One reason may be that fecal incontinence can be a complication of childbirth. But most women with fecal incontinence develop it after age 40, so other factors may be involved.
- Nerve damage. People who have long-standing diabetes or multiple sclerosis — conditions that can damage nerves that help control defecation — may be at risk of fecal incontinence.
- Dementia. Fecal incontinence is often present in late-stage Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
- Physical disability. Being physically disabled may make it difficult to reach a toilet in time. An injury that caused a physical disability also may cause rectal nerve damage leading to fecal incontinence.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed Oct. 2, 2012.
- Fecal incontinence. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/fecalincontinence/index.aspx. Accessed Oct. 3, 2012.
- Bharucha AE. Recent advances in functional anorectal disorders. Current Gastroenterology Report. 2011;13:316.
- Whitehead WE, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders: What's new and what's to do. Gastroenterology. 2010;138:1231.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1604-7..C2009-0-42832-0--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-1604-7&uniqId=327451096-2. Accessed Oct. 3, 2012.