The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and associations between anal intercourse and fecal incontinence.
Analyses were based on data from 6,150 adults (≥20 years) from the 2009–2010 cycle of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Fecal incontinence was defined as the loss of liquid, solid, or mucus stool occurring at least monthly on a validated questionnaire. A gender-specific sexual behavior questionnaire assessed any anal intercourse via an audio computer-assisted personal interview. Co-variables included: age, race, education, poverty income ratio, body mass index, chronic illnesses, depression, loose stool consistency (Bristol Stool Scale types 6 or 7), and reproductive variables in women. Prevalence estimates and prevalence odds ratios (PORs) were analyzed in adjusted multivariable models using appropriate sampling weights.
Overall, 4,170 adults aged 20–69 years (2,070 women and 2,100 men) completed sexual behavior questionnaires and responded to fecal incontinence questions. Anal intercourse was higher among women (37.3%) than men (4.5%), P<0.001. Fecal incontinence rates were higher among women (9.9 vs. 7.4%, P=0.05) and men (11.6 vs. 5.3%, P=0.03) reporting anal intercourse compared with those not reporting anal intercourse. After multivariable adjustment for other factors associated with fecal incontinence, anal intercourse remained a predictor of fecal incontinence among women (POR: 1.5; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0–2.0) and men (POR: 2.8; 95% CI: 1.6–5.0).
The findings support the assessment of anal intercourse as a factor contributing to fecal incontinence in adults, especially among men.