International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 253–260 | Cite as

Fecal incontinence: a review of prevalence and obstetric risk factors

  • Andrea WangEmail author
  • Marsha Guess
  • Kathleen Connell
  • Kenneth Powers
  • George Lazarou
  • Magdy Mikhail
Review Article


Anal incontinence (AI) is a significant problem that causes social and hygienic inconvenience. The true prevalence of AI is difficult to estimate due to inconsistencies in research methods, but larger studies suggest a rate of 2–6% for incontinence to stool. There is a significant association between sonographically detected anal sphincter defects and symptoms of AI. The intrapartum factors most consistently associated with a higher risk of AI include: forceps delivery, third or fourth degree tears, and length of the second stage of labor. Fetal weight of > 4,000 g is also associated with AI. Repair of the sphincter can be performed in either an overlapping or an end-to-end fashion, with similar results for both methods. The role of cesarean delivery for the prevention of AI remains unclear, and further study should be devoted to this question.


Anal incontinence Fecal incontinence Obstetrics 


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Copyright information

© International Urogynecology Journal 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marsha Guess
    • 1
  • Kathleen Connell
    • 2
  • Kenneth Powers
    • 1
  • George Lazarou
    • 1
  • Magdy Mikhail
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Montefiore Medical CenterAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  2. 2.Division of Urogynecology, Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyBronx Lebanon Hospital CenterBronxUSA

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