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Effect of Aging on Anorectal and Pelvic Floor Functions in Females

Fox Jean C. M.D.; Fletcher, Joel G. M.D.; Zinsmeister, Alan R. Ph.D.; Seide, Barb; Riederer, Stephen J. M.D.; Bharucha, Adil E. M.D.
Diseases of the Colon & Rectum: November 2006
doi: 10.1007/s10350-006-0657-4
Effect of Aging on Anorectal and Pelvic Floor Functions in Females: PDF Only

Purpose: Purpose:In females, fecal incontinence often is attributed to birth trauma; however, symptoms sometimes begin decades after delivery, suggesting that anorectal sensorimotor functions decline with aging.

Methods: Methods:In 61 asymptomatic females (age, 44 ± 2 years, mean ± standard error of the mean) without risk factors for anorectal trauma, anal pressures, rectal compliance, and sensation were assessed by manometry, staircase balloon distention, and a visual analog scale during phasic distentions respectively. Anal sphincter appearance and pelvic floor motion also were assessed by static and dynamic magnetic resonance imaging respectively in 38 of 61 females.

Results: Results:Aging was associated with lower anal resting (r= −0.44,P< 0.001) and squeeze pressures (r= −0.32,P= 0.01), reduced rectal compliance (i.e.,rfor pressure at half-maximum volumevs.age = 0.4,P= 0.001), and lower (P≤ 0.002) visual analog scale scores during phasic distentions at 16 (r= −0.5) and 24 mmHg (r= −0.4). Magnetic resonance imaging revealed normal anal sphincters in 29 females and significant sphincter injury, not associated with aging, in 9 females. The location of the anorectal junction at rest (r= 0.52,P< 0.001), squeeze (r= 0.62,P< 0.001), and Valsalva maneuver (r= 0.35,P= 0.03), but not anorectal motion (e.g., from resting to squeeze) was associated with age.

Conclusions: Conclusions:In asymptomatic females, aging is associated with reduced anal resting and squeeze pressures, reduced rectal compliance, reduced rectal sensation, and perineal laxity. Together, these changes may predispose to fecal incontinence in elderly females.

Supported in part by Grants R01 HD38666, R01 HD41129, and R01 EB00212 (SJR) and General Clinical Research Center grant M01 RR00585 from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health Service.

Presented at the meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association, Atlanta, Georgia, May 20 to 23, 2001.

An erratum to this article is available at


© The ASCRS 2006