Did you know that you have a smart ass?
Inside your bum is the internal anal sphincter (IAS) and it is highly intelligent.
Its a smooth muscle that helps hold in your poo until you can find a toilet. But guess what, gas and liquid come down the same tube. You know that feeling you get when you have to fart, but somehow you know you don't need to actually poo yet, well we can thank the IAS. It allows a small sample to partially enter the anal canal to sense what contents are causing pressure or stretch to the rectum above. Don't worry, this doesn't come all the way out of the anus. You still have an external sphincter closed tightly and a brain that can decide what to do with the sample it senses.
Think of your anal sphincters like 2 sets of doors to walk through to exit a building. If the IAS senses gas, you may selectively release it at that time or wait until you step out of the room. If a solid material is sensed, it can be retained until the appropriate time and your body can override the urge to poo. If you have a stomach bug or just really loose stools, the IAS can sense the liquid, but this is much more difficult to hold in.
Unfortunately, sometimes these structures aren't working efficiently. They may have had some trauma either with vaginal childbirth, radiation, forceful anal sexual activities or chronic constipation and straining. The tissues in the anus may become overstretched, torn, or normal reflexes lost that allow this system to function efficiently.
Luckily, there are strategies to help the tissues regain strength, improve sensation and get your stool consistency right. No one wants to be victim to fecal incontinence (involuntary loss of stool), but shit happens.
If you are suffering with this condition, contact your local Pelvic Physical Therapist and see if you are a candidate for therapy!
Healthy Poo, Healthy You!