Fecal Incontinence in Women: Causes and Treatment

Ashima Makol; Madhusudan Grover; William E Whitehead


Women's Health. 2008;4(5):517-528. 

In This Article


Prior to the year 2000, there were almost no published data on the prevalence of FI. Since then, there have been a number of reports from population-based samples[9,14,15] as well as clinical samples,[16,17] and there are now systematic reviews[2,18,19] and a meta-analysis.[6] Nevertheless, the reported prevalence estimates still vary in a wide range. Factors contributing to this variability include differences in case definition (anal incontinence vs FI), differences in the population studied, especially the age of the sample,[20] and whether nursing home residents are included. Reports of the prevalence of FI from population-based studies of community-dwelling adults range from 3 to 17%[14,15] depending on the age of the cohort, with prevalence in women increasing from 6% in those younger than 40 years to 15% in women older than 65 years.[5] The female:male ratio is estimated to be 3:2.[9]

The prevalence of FI may be underestimated – less than a third of people who identify themselves as having FI in surveys say they have reported this to their doctor[16] and, therefore, it is possible that some people might be reluctant to report FI in surveys as well.


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