The term fecal continence describes the ability to control the contents of the large intestine (solid, liquid, gaseous) and pass them at the desired moment and place. This complex function is based on the interplay of different muscular, sensory and anatomical structures and mechanisms. If this function does not work properly anymore, it is called fecal incontinence.
Symptoms of fecal incontinence are often kept a secret, and psychological and social consequences–even social isolation–are severe.
Subject to its severity, fecal incontinence is divided in three stages:
- incontinence I: involuntary passing of gas
- incontinence II: involuntary passing of liquid fecal matter
- incontinence III: involuntary passing of normally shaped fecal matter