Darmklinik Exter

Tagesklinik für integrative Medizin

Sphincter weakness

What is a sphincter weakness?

A sphincter weakness describes a functional disorder of the sphincter in the area of the anus. In the most cases such a slowly developing muscle weakness is absolutely not noticed for a long time. If the stool is shaped and firm a weak sphincter muscle can fulfill its function without a big problem. 

Often the first time when the patient notices that the sphincter muscle does not work properly is during diarrhea. Not seldom the bladder sphincter is also affected in women, so that during physical efforts, especially when coughing the urine can no longer be held.

Fecal incontinence

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is defined as an uncontrolled discharge of stool and flatulence. This disease is still a big taboo subject, though about 3 - 5% of the entire population is affected.

What fecal incontinence means depends on the definition. Here is a very rough division:

Fecal incontinence 1st Grade 

Fecal incontinence 2nd Grade

Fecal incontinence 3rd Grade

Uncontrolled discharge of flatulence

Uncontrolled discharge of thin stool and flatulence

Uncontrolled discharge of flatulence, thin and solid stool

Fine incontinence disorder

Independent of fecal incontinence there is a fine incontinence, which leads to discharge, smearing and soiled underwear, though the sphincter functions well. It is caused by hemorrhoids or other diseases in the anal canal.

When stool incontinence appears the internal and external sphincter play a central role. The smooth muscles of the internal sphincter involuntary keeps the anal canal closed also at night and opens only as a reflex response e.g. during defecation. The striated muscle of the external sphincter is under voluntary control, and this way it makes it possible to control or keep the stool consciously.


  • soiled underwear
  • itching, burning, discharge
  • unpleasant smells
  • involuntary discharge of stool
  • impairment of social life


  • damages during delivery
  • damages of sphincter
  • weakness of the pelvic floor
  • infections (diarrhea) and chronically inflammatory diseases of the colon and the anal region, e.g. Morbus Crohn
  • muscle power decrease with age
  • rectal prolapse, abscesses, fistulas, fissures
  • neurologic disorders and diseases
  • tumors and cancer