How to collect a stool sample

Updated April 17, 2017

Your stools can reveal a lot about you, especially if you're feeling unwell. Doctors order a stool sample under certain circumstances. He may want to determine if you have a bacterial infection in your gastrointestinal system, diagnose a food allergy such as a milk protein allergy, determine if you have digestive problems such as being unable to absorb nutrients, or rule out gastrointestinal bleeding. With a few necessary supplies, you can collect a stool sample in the privacy of your own home and then return the sample for analysis.

Collect a stool specimen container, paper stool collection bowl and a laboratory form with a plastic bag from your GP surgery, clinic or hospital.

Wear plastic or rubber disposable gloves.

Place the stool collection bowl on your toilet bowl towards the back of the toilet bowl. If you don't have a paper stool collection bowl, cover the rim of toilet bowel with cling film.

Sit on the toilet and pass a bowel movement into the stool collection bowl or on the surface of the cling film.

Scoop your stool into the stool specimen container with the enclosed spoon attached to the lid of the specimen bottle. Fill the specimen container up to the "fill" line. Try not to get any urine into the specimen container.

Screw the top on tightly. Make sure the specimen container is labelled with the date and your personal details, such as your full name and date of birth correctly. Place the specimen container into the plastic bag and seal from the top.

Remove the cling film or stool collection bowl from your toilet, seal it in a bin bag and discard it in an outside waste bin.

Wash your hands with an anti-bacterial soap thoroughly and pat them dry.

Deliver the sample to your surgery or post the sample with the envelope provided, on the same day.

Things You'll Need

  • Disposable plastic/rubber gloves
  • Stool specimen container
  • Paper stool collection bowl or cling film
  • Anti-bacterial soap
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About the Author

Based in New York, Foziya Khan has been writing health and fitness articles for more than six years. She is a nutrition counselor by trade, specializing in weight management. Khan holds a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and a Master of Science degree in nutrition and food management from the University of Huddersfield.