Faecal incontinence is much more common than most people realise. This is because most people do not talk about it. Unlike many medical conditions, this is not something that most people find easy to mention to their friends. A heart transplant would be easy to tell the neighbours about. Faecal incontinence is not.
The best idea of the real extent of the problem comes from a survey of over 15,000 people in England. More than five people in every 100 had some problem control of stools and for one person in every hundred this was enough of a problem to restrict their lifestyle.
It does become more common as you get older, but it is not caused simply by old age, and most people with faecal incontinence are not old. Two out of three are under 65 years of age, and two out of three with more severe problems are women (largely because childbirth can damage the muscles of the back passage).
The severity of the problem can of course vary greatly. It may happen only rarely, or every day. It may be a small or large amount that is lost each time. For many people with this problem it does not really matter how often or how much. Anxiety comes from never being certain that you are safe and that it will not happen.