WARNING: The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context.

Embarrassing Fat Bodies, 12:30am Monday 27th October 2014 on More 4. Catch up for free on 4oD »

Video

Body Check – Stools Transcript

Dr Christian: Despite not being very pleasant, your poo is important, as not only does it remove waste from the body, it can tell you a lot about your general state of health.

The best way to spot a potential problem is to check yourself and there are some key things to look out for.

When it comes to shape, a sausage like form is normal but if your stools appear in separate hard lumps this can be a sign of constipation.

Width will also vary from person to person but look out for a prolonged change to narrower stools as it may be a sign of obstruction in the colon and it should be discussed with your doctor.

Soft forms or liquid, resulting in diarrhoea, can be a sign of infection like food poisoning – but can also occur after alcohol or spicy food. Thyroid problems can cause diarrhoea too.

If it doesn’t stop in a few days it could be IBS – irritable bowel syndrome – or Crohn’s disease.

How often you go isn’t generally a cause for concern – people differ, ranging from three times a week to three times a day. But if your regularity changes or if you swap between constipation and diarrhoea for no apparent reason these are possible signs of bowel cancer, and it’s really worth discussing with your doctor.

Stools get their normal brownish colour from bile. However, you may find you have various colour changes, which are more than likely to be influenced by something you’ve eaten. But it can sometimes indicate something more serious.

Red colouring can come from food, but blood can also cause it and although this isn’t nice to see, it is something doctors come across quite often, usually as a result of haemorrhoids or a small tear; if it persists make sure to get it checked out.

If the stools appear black, this can be digested blood, which could mean bleeding ulcers or tumours and is something really important to look out for and get examined.

Finally, white stools are definitely worth being evaluated by your doctor because they may indicate a serious problem in the liver, such as hepatitis.

For this body check and others featured on the site we want to hear about your findings. So please come back to share your results and discuss them with other site users.

And if you have any concerns or ongoing problems it’s best to contact your GP.

Read the video transcript

Body Check: Stools

Despite not being very pleasant, your poo is important as not only does it remove waste from your body, it can also tell you a lot about your state of health. In this video, Dr Christian tells you what changes to look out for in your poo.

Keep an eye out for changes in shape and width, as a prolonged change could be a sign of an underlying condition. What you’ve eaten can also have an effect on your poo, causing changes in form and consistency. Colour changes can also come from food, but red, black, or white stools could also indicate more serious conditions like digested blood or liver disease, so do get it checked out.

How often you go isn’t a cause for concern, but if your regularity changes or you constantly swap between constipation and diarrhoea, it could be a possible sign of bowel cancer and it would be advisable to discuss with a GP.

We want to hear about your findings, so please click the link below and add your results to our national survey.

If you are worried that your child is suffering from constipation, then read our condition guide especially for parents on the Embarrassing Bodies: Kids website.

+++UPDATE+++
From the 29th April – 5th May 2009 we conducted a National Health Survey to find out what the state of the nation’s stools was.

Over 15,000 of you responded and once again it was women that were more willing to share their findings, with 76% of respondents being female.

In total, 47% of people who took part reported Type 3 or Type 4 stools – which are normal, and sausage like in appearance – not too hard or soft. However, 22% of people reported Type 1 or Type 2 stools, which are much looser than is ideally the case. If this persists then it can be a sign of an infection, or more serious bowel conditions, such as IBS and Crohn’s.

Around 17% of respondents said that they had hard, pellety stools, and these can be a sign of constipation, so it might be worth looking at your diet if this persists for long periods of time.

Constipation can result in small amount of blood entering the stool (as can hemorrhoids or small tears to the anus) which will probably account for the 356 or so respondents that reported red blood in their poo. If this persists, it would be worth getting checked out by your GP.

A more serious concern was that around 7% of our respondents reported that they had black stools, and as this can be a sign of digested blood, it should always be checked out by your doctor, as it can be a sign of intestinal problems, and in rare cases serious conditions such as Bowel Cancer.

Yellowish stools have also caused concern for around 5% of you and the most common cause of this is a lack of bile caused by your poo moving too quickly through the digestive tract. Again if this is a persistent problem, then it should be checked by your doctor.

Did you find this useful? YesYes NoNo

4512 of 4862 people said they found this useful

Comments and Questions

You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

For 2 days i have had diarrhoea and i have been going at least 3 times in 1 hour. I have only been sick once, and had a fever and high temp with shakes and sweats. Since i started to have diarrhoea i haven't eaten anything apart from maybe 1 or 2 biscuits and a bite of an apple. I am getting really painful stomach cramps to the point i can't get myself up. Despite starving myself i'm still passing watery stool 2 days later? Help please as the doctors is now closed!





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I had my gallblader removed 2 weeks ago and since then I'be been having a very watery, yellow poo with painful cramps. I know that this a symptom of after surgery, but I would like to know if it will ever get better in time, if your body adjusts to not having a gallbladder anymore and subsequent the diahrrea stops.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Why is my poo a mushy pea substance when I have never eaten them and why is it that when I do use the bathroom it always takes a few flushes to get it down the toilet its that mushy?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I have had a deep ache in my left side for weeks only slightly relieved if I go to the loo. My stools appear flat but I do have piles, I get a bit of pain radiating over my stomach but it stops around my belly button. I have always had bowel problems since I was a teenager but after a recent fall this has started and only appears to be getting worse!!





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

2 weeks ago I had a testical removed because of it being cancerous but since then my stools have been very loose and have been going to the toilet about 5 times a day is this normal. Before having 1 testical removed I would not go for 2-3 days in some instances, can you please help.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I am a 50 year old female. I have had pian in my left groin for 3 months, at first I thought it would get better. After visiting my gp they advised a water infection. After 3 courses I am still in extreme pain in my left groin. It is worse in the morning when I awake and gets slightly better once moving around. My stools are quire runny and quite orange.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I have stringy poo with lumps running through like knotted yarn ,I take psylium husk and had cured it but recently changed diet to food combining and left out wheat as it aggravates ,I've had this before and it is accompanied by bad pains in lower tummy .I have diverticulitis I eat lots of fruit and veg this type stool is in amongst soft stool ?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Fleash like pieces in my poo. Followed by pain in stomach. What could this be?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Im 14. For the past 2 days my number 2s have been very pale, almost beige in colour, quite soft and it burns a bit down there. Its also that time of the month so i don't know if that was anything to do with it. I kinda dont want to tell anyone. Should i be worried?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

My number 2 changes constantly yellow, brown, soft,hard mucus,no mucus?? I have had various tests but the doctor said I was too young for a coloscopy aged 26??? After feeling my stomach he signed me off and I've never heard anything since!,, iv suffered with on and off cramping and bloating for years but feel well most of the time is this ok?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Find another doctor!

It could be IBS, get doctor to take another look.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.



Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.



Please don't swear or be rude in your questions, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting questions. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines


More Information

  1. Quick Health Advice: Moles

    In Videos - Dr Jessen advises on the kind of mole you should be looking out for…

  2. How To Check Your Skin

    In Videos - Dr Jessen provides a quick guide on how to check and protect your s…

  3. Doctor Responses: IBS

    In Videos - Dr Christian answers your most frequently asked questions about Irr…

  4. Enlarged Prostate

    In Conditions - An enlarged prostate (known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH)…

  5. Consultation: Breast Reconstruction

    In Videos - Dr Jessen treats a breasts cancer survivor who wants to receive an…

  6. Dr Christian Jessen

    In Videos - Find out more about Dr Christian Jessen

  7. How To Check Your Vulva

    In Videos - Dr Harper's guide to how to self-check your vulva against vulval ca…

  8. Consultation: Prostate Cancer

    In Videos - Dr Jessen treats a patient whose Prostate Cancer has worsened in re…

  9. Dr Christian Jessen

    Doctor Info - Find out more about Dr Christian

  10. Dr Priya Manickavasagar

    Doctor Info - Find out more about Dr Priya.

  11. James Russell

    Doctor Info - Find out more about James Russell.

  12. How To Check Your Breasts

    In Videos - Dr Dawn Harper explains how to self check your boobs for breast can…

  13. How To Check Your Testicles

    In Videos - Dr Harper's guide to how to self-check your balls against testicula…

  14. Quick Health Advice: Piles

    In Videos - Dr Jessen passes on some advice about the causes of piles and the p…

  15. Quick Health Advice: Penis Spots

    In Videos - Dr Christian discusses how to check for penile spots and what warni…


Help Beat Cancer

Download our free mobile game to help Reverse The Odds in the fight against cancer.

Available on App Store, Google Play and Amazon App Store >

Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here