Talking with Your Doctor

What can you do for bowel incontinence?  

Step 1 – have a conversation with your doctor.

Recent research shows that up to 18% of the general population worldwide suffer from bowel incontinence.1 However, due to the shame and emotional toll of this condition - many people avoid seeking treatment, and the number of cases is likely higher.2

Talking to your doctor about bowel incontinence means discussing some uncomfortable terms such as “loose stool”, “loose bowel movement”, “anal seepage” and “anal leakage”, and sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say.

Your doctor is the best resource to learn about what can be done for bowel incontinence. Treatments can improve your condition and your quality of life.3

Here are some suggestions to get the conversation started with your doctor.

  1. Be honest and direct. “Doctor, I’m having some difficulty controlling accidents.”
  2. Discuss any previous therapies, medications or products you have tried, to manage bowel incontinence.
  3. Talk about how this condition has affected your life. Share this with your doctor.
    • How long have you been having accidents?
    • How often do you have accidents? (e.g. every three days, once a month, etc.)
    • Describe your feelings after having an accident (e.g. shame, sadness, embarrassment)
    • How has bowel incontinence affected your social or family life? (e.g. travel, time with loved ones)
    • How has bowel incontinence affected your work life? (e.g. had to call in sick, missed meetings)
  4. Use the Cleveland Clinical Fecal Incontinence Score (CCFIS) to help keep an accurate record to share with your doctor. Calculate your bowel incontinence symptoms score here.

Looking for a doctor who can help treat your bowel incontinence?

Find a specialist near you, using our Find a Doctor locator tool.


  1. Paquette IM, Varma MG, Kaiser AM, Steele SR, Rafferty JF. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons’ Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Fecal Incontinence. Dis Colon Rectum. 2015;58:623–636.

  2. Irwin T, Snow AR, Orton TS, Elliot C. Endoscopic, ultrasonographic, and histologic descriptions of dextranomer/hyaluronic acid in a case of fecal incontinence. Case Reports in Pathology. 2018.