Urge Faecal Incontinence


Urge faecal incontinence is a condition that affects many people, yet it remains underdiagnosed and undertreated. This type of incontinence is characterised by an urgent need for a bowel movement and the inability to control the urge. It can be distressing and embarrassing, leading to a decreased quality of life for those who suffer from it.

There are several causes of urge faecal incontinence, including neurological conditions, muscle damage, and other health factors. Symptoms can vary from person to person but often include a sudden need for a bowel movement, leakage of stool, and the inability to reach the toilet in time.

Treatment options for urge faecal incontinence include medications, exercises, and surgery. Pelvic floor exercises, in particular, can effectively strengthen the muscles that control bowel movements. It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have urge faecal incontinence, as early intervention can improve outcomes and quality of life.

Managing Urge Faecal Incontinence: Exercises, Treatment, and Prevention

Medication can be used to treat urge faecal incontinence in women
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Urge faecal incontinence can be a challenging condition to manage, but there are many ways to improve bowel control and prevent embarrassing accidents from occurring.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, are key to managing urge faecal incontinence. These exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Strengthening these muscles can improve bowel control and reduce the frequency and severity of incontinence episodes.

  • To perform pelvic floor exercises, find a comfortable position and contract the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine. Hold for a few seconds, then release and relax the muscles for a few seconds.
  • Repeat this process several times, aiming for 10 to 15 repetitions per session.
  • You can perform pelvic floor exercises anywhere, at any time, without anyone noticing.
  • For best results, aim to perform these exercises daily, gradually increasing the length of time you hold the contractions and the number of repetitions you perform.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available that can help manage urge faecal incontinence, including medications, biofeedback training, and surgery.

  • Medications: Certain medications can help reduce the symptoms of urge faecal incontinence by relaxing the muscles in the intestine or reducing the frequency of bowel contractions.
  • Biofeedback training: This type of therapy involves using sensors to monitor muscle activity in the pelvic floor muscles while performing exercises. It can help improve awareness and control of these muscles, leading to better bowel control.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where other treatments have not been effective, surgery may be an option. This can involve procedures to repair or replace damaged muscles or nerves, or to create an artificial sphincter to control bowel movements.

Prevention Strategies

While managing urge faecal incontinence is important, preventing episodes from occurring in the first place is even better. Here are some effective prevention strategies:

  • Eat a high-fiber diet to promote regular bowel movements and reduce the risk of constipation.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that can irritate the bladder, such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods.
  • Practice good bowel habits, including going to the bathroom when you feel the urge instead of holding it in.
  • Use the bathroom on a regular schedule to promote regular bowel movements and reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Wear protective pads or underwear to prevent embarrassment in the event of an accident.

By incorporating these exercises, treatment options, and prevention strategies into your daily routine, you can effectively manage urge faecal incontinence and enjoy a better quality of life.

Symptoms, Triggers, and Diagnosis of Urge Faecal Incontinence

Urge faecal incontinence is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to defecate, resulting in the involuntary loss of stool. People with this condition may experience symptoms such as the sudden and urgent need to use the bathroom, difficulty controlling bowel movements, and the loss of stool or feces without warning.

Stress is one of the causes of urge faecal incontinence in women
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Urge faecal incontinence can be triggered by a variety of factors, including certain foods or drinks, emotional stress, physical activity, and medications. It can also be caused by neurological conditions, muscle damage, or other health factors that impact bowel control.


The symptoms of urge faecal incontinence can vary from person to person, but can include:

  • The sudden and urgent need to use the bathroom
  • Difficulty controlling bowel movements
  • The loss of stool or feces without warning
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Leakage or staining of underwear
  • Feelings of embarrassment or shame

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with your doctor to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment.


Urge faecal incontinence can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:

  • Certain foods, such as spicy or fatty foods
  • Alcohol or caffeine
  • Emotional stress or anxiety
  • Physical activity
  • Medications that impact bowel function

It is important to identify your individual triggers to help prevent episodes of urge faecal incontinence.


Diagnosing urge faecal incontinence may involve a variety of tests and assessments, including:

  • A physical exam to check for muscle or nerve damage in the pelvic area
  • Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI, to evaluate the pelvic muscles and nerves
  • Anorectal manometry, which measures the pressure and muscle strength in the rectum and anal canal
  • Stool tests to rule out any underlying conditions or infections

If you are experiencing symptoms of urge faecal incontinence, speak with your doctor to determine the appropriate diagnostic tests and treatment options.

Understanding Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and its Impact on Urge Faecal Incontinence

Pelvic floor dysfunction can contribute to urge faecal incontinence in women
Photo Credit: Freepik

Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to a range of conditions that can affect the pelvic floor muscles, which play a crucial role in bowel control. When the pelvic floor muscles become weakened or damaged, they can lead to problems with bladder and bowel control, including urge faecal incontinence.

The Pelvic Floor Muscles and How They Work

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that run from the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis to the tailbone at the back. They support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus (in women), and rectum.

When these muscles are working correctly, they can help control urine and stool release. However, if they become weakened or damaged, they may not be able to contract and relax properly, which can lead to incontinence.

Types of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Several types of pelvic floor dysfunction can contribute to urge faecal incontinence, including:

  • Pelvic floor muscle weakness
  • Pelvic floor muscle coordination problems
  • Pelvic floor muscle tension or spasm
  • Pelvic organ prolapse

Each type of dysfunction requires a different approach to treatment, which is why it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If a healthcare professional suspects pelvic floor dysfunction contributes to urge faecal incontinence, they may refer the patient to a pelvic floor physiotherapist or specialist for further evaluation.

Pelvic floor check can help identify and treat urge faecal incontinence
Photo Credit: Freepik

A pelvic floor physiotherapist can perform a range of tests to assess the strength, coordination, and function of the pelvic floor muscles. Based on the results, they can recommend exercises and other strategies to improve bowel control.

Other treatments may be necessary, such as biofeedback training, electrical stimulation, or surgery. The most appropriate treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the incontinence and the extent of the muscle damage.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, are essential to pelvic floor rehabilitation for urge faecal incontinence. These exercises involve squeezing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles to improve their strength and flexibility.

Pelvic floor exercises can be done by men and women of all ages, including those who are pregnant or postmenopausal. They can also be helpful for those who have experienced nerve damage or undergone pelvic surgery.

A pelvic floor physiotherapist can guide how to perform these exercises correctly and create an individualised exercise program to meet the patient’s specific needs.

Frequent Asked Questions about Urge Faecal Incontinence in Women

What causes urge bowel incontinence?

Urge bowel incontinence is typically caused by an overactive bladder, which leads to a sudden and uncontrollable urge to have a bowel movement. It may be triggered by neurological conditions, nerve damage, infections, or other underlying medical issues affecting the rectum and colon.

How do you treat urge bowel incontinence?

Treatment for urge bowel incontinence may involve a combination of approaches, such as dietary changes, bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback, and medications to relax the bladder or regulate bowel movements. In some cases, surgery may be considered for severe or refractory cases.

Why do I have the urge to have a bowel movement?

The urge to have a bowel movement is a natural response of the body’s digestive system. It is usually triggered by the stretching of the rectum as stool accumulates, signaling the nervous system that it is time to empty the bowels. Factors such as diet, hydration, and gastrointestinal motility can also influence the urge.

What medication is used for bowel urgency?

Several medications can be used to manage bowel urgency and incontinence. These may include anticholinergic drugs that help relax the bladder and reduce spasms (e.g., oxybutynin, tolterodine) or medications that slow down bowel contractions and increase stool consistency (e.g., loperamide).

The specific medication prescribed will depend on the individual’s condition and medical history, so it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment.