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

Impact of Fecal Incontinence on Quality of Life

Although not a life-threatening symptom, FI can significantly impair a woman's lifestyle.[8] Severe FI has a devastating impact on social interactions and self-image.[13,14] Women who have FI may feel ashamed, embarrassed or humiliated, and some do not want to leave their homes out of the fear of having an ‘accident' in public. Some remain tethered to the toilet in an attempt to minimize incontinence[21] while others learn the location of all the public toilets in any area where they plan to go and carefully plan each trip to be within reach of a toilet. This can result in work absenteeism, self-imposed isolation and depression.[22–25]

Little objective data exist on the effect of incontinence on the quality of relationships with family members and sexual partners. There is some evidence suggesting impaired sexual relationships in individuals with incontinence.[26] However, when women are frail and are dependent on family members or other caregivers for assistance with toileting, FI may be a significant source of stress owing to the physical and mental effort needed for some of the tasks and the unpleasantness of dealing with incontinence.[27] When caregivers can no longer cope with the additional burden imposed by incontinence, the likelihood of transfer to a nursing home increases.


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