Fecal incontinence in US women: A population-based study


      The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of fecal incontinence (FI) and associated risk factors in a broad age range of community-dwelling women.

      Study design

      This was a population-based, age-stratified postal survey of 6000 women aged 30 to 90 years enrolled in a large HMO in Washington State. Sample was linked to longitudinal automated medical data. FI was defined as loss of liquid or solid stool at least monthly.


      The response rate was 64%. The prevalence of FI was 7.2%; prevalence increased notably with age. Women with FI reported significant lifestyle alteration and functional disability. Older age (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.11-2.22), major depression (OR 2.73), urinary incontinence (OR 2.32), medical comorbidity (OR 1.76-2.58), and operative vaginal delivery (OR 1.52) were significantly associated with increased odds of FI.


      In this large report of US community-dwelling women, FI was a prevalent condition. Age, major depression, urinary incontinence, medical illness, and operative vaginal delivery were strongly associated with likelihood of FI.

      Key words

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