Fecal Incontinence: Definition & Causes

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Flatulence: Definition, Causes & Process

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Fecal Incontinence
  • 0:43 What Is Fecal Incontinence?
  • 1:09 Causes
  • 3:14 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Most of us can 'hold it.' Some people, however, cannot. That may be a sign of fecal incontinence. What this is and the primary reasons as to its occurrence are outlined in this lesson.

Fecal Incontinence

When you are young, you poop and pee your pants. That's pretty normal. No one really thinks anything bad about the fact that a baby has pooped its pants because it's expected. On the other extreme of age, when we get into our senior years, people over the age of 65 are also likely to have this same problem, which is called fecal incontinence. People younger than this can suffer from fecal incontinence, but it's not as common. In any case, this is a problem and is embarrassing since it's less expected and accepted by society.

In this lesson, we are going to look more closely at this issue and define what fecal incontinence is and some of its major causes in adults.

What Is Fecal Incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control ones passage of stool. That means that a person who has fecal incontinence literally cannot control how much or even when they defecate through the anus. This problem is more common than you might think. Actually, about 1 in 12 Americans suffer from some sort of fecal incontinence, and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on disposable underwear as a result.

Causes of Fecal Incontinence

One of the main mechanisms behind fecal incontinence is the inappropriate function of the anal sphincter muscles, one of two muscles that control the evacuation of feces. This can most often occur due to a traumatic injury or a nervous system disease. Although the sphincter muscles are circular and close like strings around a bag, it's easier to think of the anal sphincter muscles as a gate at the end of a very long hose, your digestive tract. Once the gate opens, everything can rush out. If this gate doesn't work correctly, it can open at an inappropriate time, even if the person doesn't want to defecate at that moment voluntarily.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support