Have you ever had to give your doctor a stool sample? Not a urine sample, a stool sample. Believe it or not, medical professionals can tell a lot about a person by examining stool. There are several qualities they look to determine healthy stool. Here's how to tell if yours is healthy without putting it into a plastic cup.
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Look at the colour. The proper colour of healthy stool is a medium brown resembling the colour of a brown paper bag. If the stool has any other colour in it such as red, yellow, white or green, get it checked out by your doctor. In most cases it indicates something lacking in your diet, but it can also be a sign of something more serious. (See resources for more information.)
Consider how easy the bowel movement passes. A healthy stool quickly and easily leaves your body. There should be no pain or straining involved. Straining can be a sign of constipation.
Check size and consistency. You want your stool to be formed like your colon, similar to a banana or log shape (stool ends can be off-shape). The consistency should be comparable to peanut butter or toothpaste (not too hard or too soft). You do not want your stool to be super thin (like a pencil), round (like little pellets), extremely hard or really loose. Estimate the length (take a guess; no ruler necessary). Average length for stool varies between 4 and 8 inches.
Smell. You don’t have to get right next to it, but when you are sitting on the toilet, take a sniff. A healthy stool has little to no odour (also accompanied by little gas). If it is soft and very smelly, this indicates excess fat in your stool.
Notice its descent. Healthy stool gradually lowers into the bottom of the toilet or floats. It depends on what you eat, although it does not need to sink like a rock. Healthy stool comes out in one solid log, and can break up once it is in the toilet. You do not need too much stool coming out (four to eight inches is good) at once or little pieces that cause flushing issues. If so you should re-evaluate your diet for a healthier toileting experience. See resource for diagnosis.