Sometimes referred to as bowel incontinence or anal incontinence, fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, causing an unintentional passing of solid or liquid stool or mucus from the rectum. Fecal incontinence can occur in people of any age, but it is more common in adults over the age of 50. Fecal incontinence is also slightly more common in women. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) estimates that more than 18 million people in the United States suffer from fecal incontinence.
Common causes of fecal incontinence include diarrhea, constipation and muscle or nerve damage associated with age or giving birth.