Risk Factors

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  • Fecal incontinence can occur at any age. But it’s most common among older people who sometimes have to cope with a lack of bladder control (urinary incontinence) as well. Other risk factors include:

    • Sex. Fecal incontinence is more common in women than in men because the condition can be a complication of childbirth.
    • Multiple pregnancies and complicated childbirth. Sometimes it is necessary during a vaginal delivery for your doctor to make a cut in to the anal sphincter muscle to safely deliver the baby. This is called an episiotomy and may lead to fecal incontinence – especially in those who had had multiple such deliveries.
    • 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.
    • Alzheimer’s disease. Fecal incontinence is often a sign of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, in which both dementia and nerve damage play a role.
    • Prior anal surgery. Some patients develop leakage or incontinence following surgery of the anus such as a hemorrhoidectomy, anal fissure or fistula surgery.
    • Physical disability. Being physically disabled for any number of reasons makes it difficult to reach a toilet in time.

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