Do you have a leaky butt? Experiencing this is called fecal incontinence, a loss of bowel control where fecal material involuntarily leaks from your butt.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, fecal incontinence is common, affecting more than 5.5 million Americans.
There are two types of fecal incontinence: urge and passive.
- With urge fecal incontinence, you feel the urge to poop but can’t control it before reaching a bathroom.
- With passive fecal incontinence, you’re unaware of mucus or poop exiting your anus.
Some medical experts include soiling as a symptom of fecal incontinence. Soiling is when mucus or poop stains appear on your underwear.
A leaky butt can be caused by a number of digestive tract disorders and chronic diseases, including:
Because loose and watery poop is more difficult to hold in than solid poop, diarrhea is a common risk for leaky butt.
Diarrhea can be triggered by viruses, bacteria, parasites, certain medications, and a number of other causes.
While everyone gets diarrhea from time to time, you should speak to a doctor if you have chronic diarrhea.
Constipation can result in large, hard poop that’s tough to pass and can stretch and eventually weaken your rectum muscles. Then those muscles can have trouble holding in the watery poop that often builds up behind the hard poop.
Constipation can be caused by a number of issues including gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, certain medications, nutrition problems, and more.
Occasional constipation can happen, but speak to a doctor if you have long-term bouts of constipation.
Hemorrhoids can prevent the muscles around your anus from completely closing, allowing small amounts of mucus or poop to leak out.
If damaged, the nerves that control your rectum, anus, or pelvic floor can interfere with muscles working the way they should.
Nerves can be damaged by a brain or spinal cord injury or even a long-term habit of heavy straining to poop.
Rectal prolapse is a condition that causes your rectum to drop through your anus. This can keep your anus from closing completely, allowing small amounts of poop or mucus to escape.
Rectocele, a type of vaginal prolapse, is a condition causing your rectum to bulge out through your vagina. It’s caused by a weakening of the thin layer of muscle between your vagina and your rectum.
If your fecal incontinence is severe or frequent, see a doctor, especially if it’s causing social or emotional discomfort or affecting the quality of your life.
If you believe you have any chronic causes or more serious conditions that may lead to fecal incontinence, speak to a doctor about diagnosis.
According a 2016 article, simple treatments are the first step. Medicine, diet changes, exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and bowel training can result in a 60 percent improvement in symptoms and stop fecal incontinence for 1 out of 5 people.
At-home treatments include:
When you discuss your symptoms with your doctor, they can suggest different dietary changes if your leaky butt is a result of diarrhea of constipation.
A doctor may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medications depending on what’s causing your fecal incontinence.
For diarrhea, they might suggest bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) or loperamide (Imodium). For constipation, they might suggest fiber supplements (such as Metamucil), osmotic agents (such as Miralax), stool softeners (such as Colace), or stimulants (such as Dulcolax).
Pelvic floor muscle exercises
Your doctor can recommend exercises that involve tightening and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles to strengthen the muscles in your anus and rectum as well as your pelvic floor.
Bowel training (or retraining) involves training yourself to poop at certain times during the day, such as after eating a meal. This can train your body to have regular bowel movements.
For more serious fecal incontinence, your doctor may recommend one or more treatments such as:
- Biofeedback therapy. This type of therapy uses sensors to measure key body functions. It can be used to help learn pelvic floor exercises or recognize when poop is filling your rectum or control urgency. A rectal ballon or anal manometry is sometimes also used to help training.
- Bulking agents. Non-absorbable bulking agents are injected to thicken anal walls.
- Prescription medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications that are stronger than OTC options to address causes of fecal incontinence such as IBS.
- Surgery. To treat injuries to the anal sphincter or pelvic floor muscles, your doctor might suggest sphincteroplasty, colostomy, sphincter repair or replacement, or surgical correction of hemorrhoids, rectocele, or a rectal prolapse.
A leaky butt, better known as fecal incontinence, is a relatively common inability to control bowel movements resulting in poop leaking unexpectedly from your rectum.
Although it might seem embarrassing, talk to your doctor if you have trouble controlling your poop. There are a number of different causes that can all be treated by your doctor, often quite simply.