Incidence and obstetric risk factors of postpartum anal incontinence

Asnat Groutz*, G. Fait, J. B. Lessing, M. P. David, I. Wolman, A. Jaffa, D. Gordon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Background: Anal incontinence in young women may be the result of injury to the pelvic floor during vaginal delivery. This study was conducted to evaluate the relationship between obstetric risk factors and the prevalence of anal incontinence 3 months and 1 year after delivery. Methods: Three hundred consecutive women who delivered in the obstetric ward of the Lis Maternity Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, were prospectively interviewed 3 months postpartum with regard to the symptom of anal incontinence. Patients with anal incontinence that started after delivery were questioned about the type, frequency, and severity of the problem, concomitant stress urinary incontinence (SUI), previous colorectal assessment, and wish for further evaluation and treatment. Obstetric data were collected from the women's medical charts. Symptomatic patients were followed-up 1 year postpartum. Results: Anal incontinence was reported by 21 patients: 19 were incontinent to gas, whereas only 2 patients were incontinent to solid feces (6.3% and 0.7% of the study population, respectively). Five patients (24% of the anal-incontinent patients) also had concomitant SUI. The length of the first and second stages of labor, operative vaginal delivery, and episiotomy were found to be associated (P < 0.05) with the development of anal incontinence at 3 months postpartum. At 1 year postpartum all patients with combined anal incontinence and SUI had persistent symptoms, Conclusion: The major obstetric risk factors for postpartum anal incontinence are prolonged first and second stages of labor, operative vaginal delivery, and the use of episiotomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-318
Number of pages4
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Anal incontinence
  • Labor
  • Risk factors
  • Women


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