Urgency and Faecal Incontinence
The anal sphincter consists of an inner ring of smooth muscle which relaxes when the rectum is distended, and is surrounded by a ring of striated muscle, which is under conscious control.
Urgency occurs when the arrival of faeces in the rectum causes strong contractions and precipitate anal relaxation. In that situation, continence can only be maintained by conscious contraction of the external anal sphincter.
Urgency is particularly common in patients with ‘irritable’ bowels, because the rectum is more sensitive to distension. If the sphincter is weak, this may cause incontinence.
Causes of Incontinence
The most common cause of sphincter weakness and faecal incontinence is damage to the pelvic floor sustained during childbirth. About 30% of women have a weak sphincter after childbirth.
“Mild sphincter weakness may be of relatively little consequence in somebody whose stools are solid and whose bowel habit is regular, but in a person who has IBS and loose bowels and a lot of wind, the risk of incontinence may severely impair a normal social life.”
Faecal incontinence can also occur after spinal injury, stroke, in Multiple Sclerosis and in long standing diabetes.
In the elderly, faecal incontinence commonly accompanies faecal impaction. Rectal distension stimulates the secretion of mucus, which can seep through an insensitive and weak anal canal.
Medical treatment of urgency and faecal incontinence usually involves treatment of diarrhoea in the first instance. Many patients find that taking a capsule of loperamide (Imodium) before they go out anywhere gives them confidence.
Anal plug. Some people find the use of an anal plug can give them confidence, but do purchase this from a reputable medical supplier.
For more information about Faecal Incontinence and how to manage it, click on Embarrassing Problems.
Find a Toilet
Don’t get caught short!
Just show your own IBS Network Can’t Wait Card in and stores to request access to a toilet when you need it.
Can't wait cards are available free to members and can be bought for £5 from The IBS Network.
The Great British Public Toilet Map was created by The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art. It was designed and built by Neontribe. It is funded by the Nominet Trust. It began as part of the TACT3 research project, funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing programme.
The map shows toilets that the public can use. This includes those in shops, cafes etc if they choose to let non-customers use their loo, such as those in Community Toilet Schemes. We try not to include those that are for customer use only.
The data comes from councils, businesses, the OpenStreetMap project and YOU! The data will be available for others to use under an open licence.
The Great British Public toilet map - http://greatbritishpublictoiletmap.rca.ac.uk/