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Bowel or fecal incontinence involves the unintentional loss of solid or liquid stool and is due to the loss of anal sphincter control. This leads to the unwanted or untimely release of feces or gas.
Most adults will experience occasional fecal incontinence due to diarrhea. But for some, the condition is ongoing. Causes include muscle damage caused by childbirth, nerve damage, hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse. Other conditions that result in poor bowel control are irritable bowel syndrome, laxative abuse and infection.
Fecal incontinence is more common in women than men, affecting as many as 1 in 10 women age 40 and older.