incontinence means the inability to hold stool in the rectum. Also called bowel or anal incontinence.
It causes stool () to leak unexpectedly from your rectum. It can range from occasional leakage of a small quantity of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.
How it works ?
The ability to hold stool (called continence) requires the rectum, anus and nervous system to be working normally. Two groups of muscles in the wall of the anus and rectum are responsible for holding the stool in the rectum, the outer muscle group (external anal sphincter) and the inner muscle group (internal anal sphincter). Normal continence also requires the ability to sense the presence of stool in the rectum (called rectal sensation), and the ability to relax and store stool (called rectal compliance) when having a bowel movement is not convenient. In addition, you need the physical and mental capabilities to recognize the urge to defecate, and go to the toilet.
What are the causes?
incontinence is commonly caused by altered bowel habits (generally , but also constipation) and conditions that affect the ability of the rectum and anus to hold stool.
Muscle or nerve damage
The sphincter muscles become weaker as you grow older. The sphincters muscles or the nerves supplying them can be damaged due to the following reasons.
- Vaginal delivery in women,
- Damage during anal surgery
- Nerve malfunction can also happen in people who strain excessively, in patients with diabetes or after a stroke.
- Rectal prolapse - where the rectum drops down into the anus.
- Rectocele - when the rectum protrudes into the vagina.