Regain Control with These Faecal Incontinence Prevention Strategies

faecal incontinence

Faecal incontinence, often called bowel incontinence, refers to the inability to control bowel movements, leading to unintentional stool leakage. This condition can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, causing embarrassment, anxiety, and social isolation. While it is more common in older adults, faecal incontinence can affect individuals of all ages.

Common Causes of Faecal Incontinence

Several factors can contribute to faecal incontinence. Understanding the root cause is crucial for effective prevention and management.

Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles:

Weakness in the pelvic floor muscles can fail to support the rectum and anal sphincter adequately, resulting in incontinence. Ageing, childbirth, and certain medical conditions can weaken these muscles.

Nerve Damage:

Damage to the nerves controlling the anal sphincter or the pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence. Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries are common causes of nerve damage.

Chronic Constipation:

Straining during bowel movements due to chronic constipation can weaken the muscles and stretch the rectum, eventually leading to incontinence.


Frequent, watery stools can make it difficult for the anal sphincter to contain bowel movements, causing leakage.

Diet and Nutrition Tips

Diet plays a pivotal role in preventing faecal incontinence. Making mindful food choices can help regulate bowel movements and strengthen digestive health.

Fibre Intake:

A balanced intake of soluble and insoluble fibre can aid bowel regularity. Soluble fibre, found in oats, beans, and fruits, helps form soft, well-formed stools. Insoluble fibre, present in whole grains and vegetables, adds bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass.


Staying well-hydrated is essential for maintaining soft stools. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate the body and cause constipation.

Regular Meals:

Eating regular, balanced meals can regulate bowel movements. Aim for small, frequent meals rather than large, heavy ones. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can provide better support for the rectum and anal sphincter, reducing incontinence episodes.

Kegel Exercises:

Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. To perform Kegels, tighten the muscles you use to stop urinating, hold for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times, three times a day.

Bridge Exercise:

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips towards the ceiling while squeezing your pelvic floor muscles. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your hips back down. Repeat 10-15 times.

Pelvic Tilts:

Stand with your back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart. Tilt your pelvis forward and back, engaging your pelvic floor muscles. Perform this movement 10-15 times.

Bladder and Bowel Training

Training the bladder and bowel can improve control and reduce incontinence episodes.

Scheduled Bathroom Visits:

Establish a routine by visiting the bathroom at regular intervals, even if you don’t feel the urge. This can help condition your body to empty the bowels at specific times.

Delayed Defecation:

Gradually increase the time between feeling the urge to defecate and actually going to the bathroom. Start with short delays and gradually extend the time. This can help train the anal sphincter to hold stool for longer periods.

Record Keeping:

Keep a journal of your bowel movements, noting the time, consistency, and any incontinence episodes. This can help identify patterns and triggers.

Role of Extracorporeal Magnetic Stimulation (EMS)

Extracorporeal Magnetic Stimulation (EMS) is an innovative technique that can help manage faecal incontinence. EMS involves using electromagnetic fields to stimulate the pelvic floor muscles, enhancing their strength and endurance.

Non-Invasive Treatment:

EMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses a magnetic coil to generate electromagnetic fields. The coil is placed near the pelvic area, and the magnetic fields stimulate the pelvic floor muscles.

Improved Muscle Function:

Regular EMS sessions can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, providing better support for the rectum and anal sphincter. This can lead to improved bowel control and reduced incontinence episodes.


EMS sessions are usually short and can be performed in a clinical setting. The procedure is painless and does not require any downtime.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, decreasing the risk of incontinence.

Balanced Diet:

Adopting a balanced diet rich in nutrients can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Focus on portion control and avoid excessive consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.

Regular Exercise:

Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, most days of the week.

Weight Management Support:

If you’re struggling to lose weight, consider seeking support from a healthcare professional or a weight management program.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate faecal incontinence. Implementing stress management techniques can help improve bowel control.

Relaxation Techniques:

Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help calm the mind and reduce stress levels.


Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It can help you stay grounded and reduce anxiety.


If stress and anxiety are significantly impacting your life, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Therapy can help you develop coping strategies and improve your overall well-being.

Importance of Regular Check-Ups

Regular medical check-ups can help detect and address potential issues related to faecal incontinence.

Medical Evaluation:

Schedule regular appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your bowel health. Discuss any changes in bowel habits or incontinence episodes with your doctor.

Screening for Underlying Conditions:

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and neurological disorders, can contribute to faecal incontinence. Regular screenings can help identify and manage these conditions.

Preventive Measures:

Your healthcare provider can recommend preventive measures and treatments tailored to your specific needs. Follow their advice to maintain optimal bowel health.

Hygiene and Skin Care

Proper hygiene and skin care are essential for preventing discomfort and infections associated with faecal incontinence.

Gentle Cleansing:

After each bowel movement, clean the anal area gently with water and mild soap. Avoid harsh soaps and vigorous scrubbing, as they can irritate the skin.


Apply a moisture barrier cream to the anal area to protect the skin from moisture and irritation. Choose a cream that is fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.

Changing Products:

If you use incontinence pads or underwear, change them promptly after each episode to prevent skin irritation and infections.

Building a Support Network

Having a strong support network can make it easier to manage faecal incontinence and maintain a positive outlook.

Family and Friends:

Share your experiences with trusted family members and friends. Their understanding and support can provide emotional comfort and encouragement.

Support Groups:

Consider joining a support group for individuals with faecal incontinence. Connecting with others who have similar experiences can reduce feelings of isolation and provide valuable insights.

Professional Support:

Seek guidance from healthcare professionals, such as dietitians, physiotherapists, and counsellors. They can offer expert advice and support tailored to your needs.

Seeking Professional Treatment

If lifestyle changes and self-care strategies are not sufficient, consider seeking professional treatment for faecal incontinence.


There are medications available that can help manage faecal incontinence. Your doctor can prescribe medications to regulate bowel movements or improve muscle function.

Surgical Options:

In severe cases, surgical interventions may be necessary. Procedures such as sphincteroplasty or sacral nerve stimulation can help improve bowel control.

Specialist Referral:

If your condition is complex, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon, for further evaluation and treatment.

Preventing Faecal Incontinence

Faecal incontinence can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right strategies and support, it is possible to regain control and improve your quality of life. By understanding the causes, making dietary and lifestyle changes, and seeking professional treatment when necessary, you can effectively prevent and manage faecal incontinence. Remember, you’re not alone—reach out to healthcare professionals and support networks for guidance and encouragement.

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