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Fecal Incontinence

  • Practice Bulletin PB
  • Number 210
  • April 2019

ABSTRACT: Fecal incontinence, or the involuntary leakage of solid or loose stool, is estimated to affect 7–15% of community-dwelling women 1. It is associated with reduced quality of life, negative psychologic effects, and social stigma 2, yet many women do not report their symptoms or seek treatment. Less than 3% of women who do self-report fecal incontinence will have this diagnosis recorded in their medical record 3. Obstetrician–gynecologists are in a unique position to identify women with fecal incontinence because pregnancy, childbirth, obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASIS), and pelvic floor dysfunction are important risk factors that contribute to fecal incontinence in women. The purpose of this Practice Bulletin is to provide evidence-based guidelines on the screening, evaluation, and management of fecal incontinence to help obstetrician–gynecologists diagnose the condition and provide conservative treatment or referral for further work up and surgical management when appropriate. For discussion on fecal incontinence associated with OASIS, see Practice Bulletin No. 198, Prevention and Management of Obstetric Lacerations at Vaginal Delivery 4.

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