1 in 12 adults is estimated to experience fecal incontinence, reports Cedars-Sinai. The condition is more often seen in women and older adults. If you experience anal leakage when coughing, it may be related to hemorrhoids or a bout of constipation or diarrhea. In other cases, fecal incontinence may be linked to a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, digestive tract inflammation, a tumor, or birth defects. A 2018 retrospective study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences demonstrated that those with cystic fibrosis may also be more susceptible to fecal incontinence due to its signature symptom of persistent cough.
Other times, difficulty controlling one’s bowel movements may not be related to a health condition at all but a result of outside factors, such as surgical procedures that involve widening the anal sphincters. Alternatively, if coughing makes you poop, it may be a sign that you’re pushing too hard when going number two. Mayo Clinic experts explain that over-straining when on the toilet can gradually lead to nerve damage or breakdown of the sphincter muscles.