Anal incontinence is an unpredictable and debilitating condition that can significantly reduce quality of life. Symptoms include the involuntary loss of solid and/or liquid stool, flatus incontinence and rectal urgency. Pregnancy and childbirth are two major factors that increase the risk of anal incontinence in women of reproductive age. Women at high risk of anal incontinence include those with a known history of the condition and those who have experienced severe perineal trauma, particularly after injury to the anal sphincters (third-degree and fourth-degree tears). Routine screening for anal incontinence of women in high-risk groups during pregnancy and after childbirth appears to be limited in clinical practice. This article discusses the potential benefits of screening for anal incontinence, outlines the factors that inhibit and enable screening, describes current bowel screening tools and their limitations, and explores how the identification of anal incontinence in women of reproductive age could be improved.
|Journal||Nursing standard : official newspaper of the Royal College of Nursing|
|Early online date||19 Apr 2021|
|Publication status||Published - 5 May 2021|