How does age affect my risk for accidental bowel leakage (ABL)?

David C. Fiore, MD
Family Medicine
The likelihood of having accidental bowel leakage (ABL) increases with age. ABL, also called fecal incontinence, affects about 1% to 2% of adults, but up to 7% of older adults. Other factors besides age that increase your risk for ABL include neurologic disease, functional limitation (due to having multiple chronic illnesses), multiple childbirths and type 2 diabetes.
Many people mistakenly believe that accidental bowel leakage (ABL) is entirely due to age and is an inevitable part of aging. While it's true that ABL is surprisingly common, it's a misconception that ABL will happen to everyone as they age.

It’s also not a condition that only affects older adults. The reality is that 70% of women with ABL first experience ABL before the age of 60. While it is true the risk for developing ABL increases with age, it is a myth to think ABL only affects the elderly.

Continue Learning about Fecal Incontinence

Fecal Incontinence

Fecal Incontinence

Having fecal incontinence means that you can't control your bowel movements and have leakages of feces. The condition ranges from leakages of a small amount of feces as you're passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control. It ca...

n be a very embarrassing condition that makes it difficult to go out in public. Treatments are available for fecal incontinence -- including medications and muscle control exercises.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.