Engaging in the practice of anal intercourse may increase risks for bowel problems, including fecal incontinence and bowel leakage, revealed a new study by University of Alabama. The findings are published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The incontinence risk is heightened particularly among men who have intercourse with men.The researchers analyzed data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 6,150 adults. They found 37% of women and almost 5% of men reported trying anal intercourse at least once. Women engaging in anal intercourse were 50% more likely than their peers to report having fecal incontinence at least once a month. The men’s odds of incontinence were almost tripled.

The study did not provide data on the frequency of the practice of anal intercourse and the impact of incontinence, but it did show a relationship between the practice of anal intercourse and fecal incontinence – more so among men than women. What we don’t know is whether someone who has anal intercourse one or two times is at the same increased risk for fecal incontinence as someone who has anal intercourse regularly.”

Overall, 4,170 adults ages 20-69 (2,070 women and 2,100 men) completed sexual behavior questionnaires and responded to fecal incontinence questions as part of the NHANES surveys. Overall, 8.3% of women and 5.6% of men in the study had fecal incontinence. Fecal incontinence rates were higher among women (9.9%) and men (11.6%) reporting anal intercourse than among women (7.4%) and men (5.3%) not reporting anal intercourse.

Fecal incontinence was determined to have occurred by researchers who reviewed responses to survey questions about leakage of mucus, liquid or stool and occurred at least monthly. The study showed that most adults who experience fecal incontinence have only occasional bouts of diarrhea. However, fecal incontinence can be chronic; it is often caused by muscle and nerve damage around the rectum, constipation, certain diseases, surgical procedures, and childbirth.

Little is known about how anal intercourse might affect bowel function, even though the survey showed the practice is common among both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Little is known about the connection between anal intercourse and fecal incontinence, especially among women. Older studies among predominately HIV-positive males showed that men who have anal intercourse with men may have impaired rectal muscle strength. It is important that both the patient and clinical provider need to be aware of the potential risks associated with anal incontinence and be willing to discuss what those risks may be.

Previous clinical trials have shown that pelvic floor muscle or anal exercises can be an effective treatment for fecal incontinence. Those engaging in anal intercourse consider these exercises to help guard against decreased anal sphincter tone. These are also known as Kegel exercises. But, doing these exercises has not been studied as a preventive measure for lowering the odds of having fecal incontinence in a general population.

Reference
Medindia

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