Frequency and predictors for postpartum fecal incontinence

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 May;188(5):1205-7. doi: 10.1067/mob.2003.333.


Objective: The goal of this study was to describe the frequency of postpartum fecal incontinence and to examine associated delivery events in a group of women participating in a validation study of a postpartum fecal incontinence survey.

Study design: A self-administered survey of fecal incontinence symptoms and delivery events was administered to 50 women seen for their 6-week postpartum appointments. An analysis of association between postpartum fecal incontinence and individual delivery characteristics was performed.

Results: The frequency of at least one fecal incontinence symptom post partum was 38%. Specifically, 24% of women reported incontinence to flatus and 10% incontinence to stool. Vaginal delivery and perineal laceration were associated with an increased risk of reporting at least one symptom. Neither infant birth weight nor parity was associated with an increased risk of postpartum fecal incontinence. Cesarean delivery was associated with a lower frequency of overall fecal incontinence symptoms.

Conclusion: The frequency of postpartum fecal incontinence was higher than previously reported. Similar to other studies, perineal laceration, especially extension into the anal sphincter, was an important risk factor for postpartum fecal incontinence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anal Canal / injuries
  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects
  • Fecal Incontinence / epidemiology*
  • Fecal Incontinence / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lacerations / complications
  • Lacerations / surgery
  • Perineum / injuries
  • Prognosis
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Puerperal Disorders / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires