NIH program makes it easier to talk about bowel control

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June marks the second anniversary of the NIDDK Bowel Control Awareness Campaign, Let’s Talk about Bowel Control!

Bowel control problems, also known as fecal incontinence, affect an estimated 18 million U.S. adults — 1 out of 12 people. Most bowel control problems improve with treatment; however, many people do not seek help due to embarrassment. Both lack of treatment and embarrassment can have a crippling effect on quality of life.

The Bowel Control Awareness Campaign and its online resources help people understand bowel control problems, a condition believed to be widely underdiagnosed. Fecal incontinence is more common among women and older adults. Increased body mass, decreased physical activity, depression, and diabetes may also increase risk.

Developed by the NIDDK, along with professional and voluntary organizations that focus on fecal incontinence, the awareness campaign offers the following resources about the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and management of bowel control problems:

  • A fact sheet on fecal incontinence
  • An easy-to-read booklet on bowel control (in English and Spanish)
  • A stool diary for patients and health care providers
  • NIH bowel control research information
  • Links to professional and voluntary organizations

Since the initial launch, the awareness campaign has distributed nearly 3,500 resource materials. These resources are available through the campaign’s website at and the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse's website at

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