Letter: Treatment for fecal incontinence due to anal sex.


This is a new section on the blog where I will post letters I have received by email. Names may be removed or changed to protect the author’s identity, unless otherwise requested.

Dear Retroflexions,

Re Is anal sex harmful? Thoughts from a gastroenterologist…

As a victim of anal rape by my domestic married partner, I never recovered from the damage he did to my quality of life. Besides a damaged anus from brutal rape for 8 years, I am left with mental health issues along with fecal incontinence and IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea subtype). In 2014, I got a fecal incontinence implant (sacral nerve stimulator). This was my life saver and my quality of live was 100% better. Thanks to my ten wonderful doctors and to their compassion I am now able to live a few more years with fecal incontinence not being the huge problem that it once was. Please tell all your patients that even though there is no rape involved to think down the road the damages that can be done by this insane practice that is becoming popular. In my opinion, the anus was never meant for consensual sex…thank you for standing up as medical doctor to the damages that come from anal sex.

-Female Reader

I am very sorry to hear about your ordeal, both as a victim of rape and abuse during your relationship, and afterwards while dealing with the mental and physical issues you describe. Other readers have commented that when it comes to incontinence, there is likely much more damage done by anal rape when compared to consensual intercourse. This would seem like common sense, however to my knowledge this distinction has never been looked at in a formal study. Thank you for sharing your story. 

Furthermore, your letter highlighted a treatment for fecal incontinence that few (including myself) are familiar with. There is an implantable device called a sacral neurostimulator that can be used to maintain continence in cases of severe fecal incontinence. While I have no professional experience with this device, the author of the above letter stated that her device is made by Medtronic and has been a “godsend.” For those who are interested, here is more on the InterStim System.

I also received several comments from people who do participate in consensual anal intercourse defending the practice and expressing disappointment in my article since I recommended steering clear of this activity. Some felt the article was closed-minded, while others accused me of not being supportive of the gay community. To be clear, I am neither of these things, and maintain that this article was merely written in response to the study cited that associates anal sex with fecal incontinence. Obviously, sexual practices are more complicated than just making a decision about the risks and benefits of a certain act…we save those conversations for medical procedures. The purpose of my article was to inform people about the potential risk of incontinence found in the study, and that is it! People are free to make any decision they want as long as all parties are consenting. I do things every day that could hurt me or shorten my life…it’s called living! It’s OK to know what the risks are and then go ahead and do whatever it is anyway!

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