Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, causing stool (feces) to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. Also called bowel incontinence, fecal incontinence ranges from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.

Overview and Symptoms

Most adults who experience fecal incontinence do so only during an occasional bout of diarrhea. But some people have recurring or chronic fecal incontinence. Another type of fecal incontinence occurs in people who are not aware of the need to pass stool. This is called passive incontinence.

Fecal incontinence may be accompanied by other bowel problems, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas and bloating


Treatment for fecal incontinence depends on the cause, and may include dietary modifications, medications, biofeedback, or surgery.

Digestive Disease Center

The IBS and Functional Bowel Disorders Program takes a multidisciplinary team approach to treat various bowel disorders and helps patients manage symptoms.

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Obstetrics & Gynecology

The Urogynecology team in the OB/GYN department are skilled at treating a variety of pelvic floor disorders.

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