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Is your poo normal?

Thursday 22 June 2017

A cartoon image of a poo with a smiley face and sunglasses sits on top of a white toilet.>
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What goes on in the loo can give you clues about your digestive health.

Hey Queensland, are you…regular? Do you really know what that means?

Bowel movements, stools, faeces or poo – regardless of what you call it, it’s likely you’ve experienced one recently. So, how do you know if yours is normal, or if you’re going too often or too rarely? And what should you do if it suddenly changes texture or colour?

What is normal poo?

Regularity

Bowel habits will vary for everyone. What is normal for one person might not be for another, which is why it’s important for you to be aware of your own body’s patterns.

When a doctor asks if you are regular, what they want to know is if there’s a pattern to your pooing. You might go each morning, after every big meal, or once every three days. What’s most important is that your body has a routine, and it stays pretty much the same.

Colour, texture and smell

Healthy poo is brown in colour. This hue comes from stercobilin, or pigments from the bile in your gut. Different foods can affect the colour of your poo, however for the most part it should stay brown.

A healthy poo should also be firm, moist and easy to pass. Spending half an hour on the toilet straining or having poo that is always watery shouldn’t be an expected part of your regular routine.

Poo gets is signature scent from the chemical reactions your gut bacteria uses to break down waste, which can produce gases like hydrogen sulphide in the process. Like colour, different foods can affect the smell of your poo, however there’s not much you can do to prevent smelly poo – consider it just another by-product of your body’s amazing waste management system.

Why might it change?

There are a lot of different factors that can affect your poo, and some of them can be serious, so it’s a good thing to keep an eye on. Diet and lifestyle both play a significant part in digestive health, while stress, medication and various illnesses can make the regularity, colour and texture of poo change.

When should I see the doctor?

If you’re ever concerned about your bowel habits or you’ve noticed a change, see your doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to talk it over with a registered nurse.

Always see the doctor if:

  • your poo has changed colour, especially if it is black, maroon or red, or has blood in it
  • you have ongoing constipation or diarrhoea
  • you have pain when digesting food or going to the toilet
  • or your routine changes dramatically, and you don’t know why.
Last updated: 23 August 2017