Fecal incontinence

An overview of Providence Health Care's services and resources for patients experiencing fecal incontinence.


Fecal incontinence is when you have difficulty controlling your bowel movements. This results in stool leaking from your rectum.

Approximately one in 10 people will experience fecal incontinence in their lifetime. Although the condition can occur at any age, it is more common among older adults. It is also more common among women than men.


Pacific Gastroenterology Associates
770 – 1190 Hornby Street 
Vancouver, BC, V6Z 2K5

Diagnosis & testing

If you experience fecal incontinence, please don't hesitate to reach out to your health care provider at Providence Health Care. We understand that this topic can be uncomfortable. We want to ensure you get the appropriate treatment.

During your initial visit, we'll ask about your symptoms and bowel movement patterns. Our team will also conduct a digital rectal exam. This is to check the strength of the muscles in your rectum and for any abnormalities.

We might use other diagnostic tests, such as:

We want this experience to be as comfortable as possible. During all these tests, we will be sensitive and respect your boundaries.

Treatment & management

After we determine what's causing your incontinence and how severe it is, we'll make a treatment plan just for you.

Your plan may include:

  • Dietary and lifestyle modifications. We will suggest dietary and lifestyle changes to relieve your constipation and diarrhea. Our clinical dietitians will work with you to create a science-based nutrition plan.
  • Muscle strengthening exercises. These exercises help you strengthen and regain control of your pelvic floor, anal, and sphincter muscles. PHC has a dedicated physiotherapist who specializes in this area of the body. We may suggest exercises for the pelvic floor muscles called Kegels. Other exercises include bowel retraining and biofeedback therapy.
  • Medication to control constipation and diarrhea. In severe cases, we prescribe drugs to relieve constipation and diarrhea. These may include anti-diarrheal drugs and bulk laxatives.

We understand that coping with fecal incontinence can be challenging. Our experts are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective healthcare to all patients. If you have questions or concerns about your treatment plan, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Clinics that treat fecal incontinence

Providence offers a specialized Continence Clinic at the St. Paul’s Older Adult Outpatient Clinic.

The Continence Clinic is for adults who are over the age of 65 years.

A multidisciplinary team works on site. They include a geriatrician, nurse continence advisor and a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Together, the team helps with treatment plans as well as pessary fittings.


If other treatments don't work, we may suggest surgery. Fecal incontinence procedures include sphincteroplasty, gracilis muscle transplantation, artificial sphincter and colostomy. Gastroenterology surgery takes place at St. Paul’s Hospital Colorectal Surgery Centre.

Support services

Providence offers a variety of services to support those we care for. The following services may be of use or benefit to you and your families.

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344,62937 or email IWL@providencehealth.bc.ca.

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.

Clinical trials & research

Advances in fecal incontinence treatments are all thanks to medical research. While participating in research is a decision you should make for yourself in consultation with your care team, there is much activity in this area so please ask us about our research programs if you’re interested.

By taking part in research, you can help us all learn more about Fecal incontinence and find better ways to help people like you live and thrive with the condition. While you cannot assume benefit to yourself, your participation can make a difference in improving care for future patients.

The following clinical trials are currently enrolling volunteers. Please ask your care team for more information or contact the research team listed on each study or trial. For other information about research at Providence Health Care, please visit Providence Research.

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