So you've thought about your poop's color, frequency, and maybe a few other things that don't need mentioning here, but have you thought about its shape? Well, good news if you haven't: researchers at the Bristol Royal Infirmary in Bristol, England created the Bristol Stool Form Scale to help doctors diagnose their patients' general and digestive health.
Since digestion is so important for overall health, it's important to pay attention to the product your body puts out -- you might need to implement some quality-control measures. The first step, though, is learning your type.
Type 1: Sharp Turd Pellets
You'll know if you're Type 1 because you're constipated as hell, and you don't need a chart to tell you that. You might even see a little fresh blood (bright red) on the tissue because these horrible little rocks can scratch you up on their way out (anal lacerations, eek).
If this type becomes your norm, see a doctor, because it might indicate obstruction or other issues. Or this could just mean that you don't have enough water and/or fiber in your diet. Not even enough for a fart. Seriously, there's no fermentation happening in there. To treat constipation, make sure you hydrate, eat fiber-rich foods, and exercise. You can also up your water intake by eating fresh fruits and veggies since "live" foods contain water too. If you want to use a laxative, here are some types to consider.
Type 2: Hard, Lumpy Log
This shit is dangerous. If Sharp Turd Pellets are painful, then Hard, Lumpy Log is a battering ram straining through your rectum. With sustained Type 2, you're more likely to suffer hemorrhoids, anal lacerations (more blood), and other unpleasantries because this impacted mass is too large for the opening provided. If this is your poop for more than a few days, visit your doctor to rule out an obstruction or irritable bowel syndrome.
It's also a good idea to talk to your doctor if you want to use a laxative, because you need to choose wisely. For instance, in this case, a bulking agent could just add mass to an already hulked-out poop. It'll only make it stronger! Other than hydrating, exercising, and eating a fiber- and plant-rich diet, here's a handy guide for improving overall bowel health so every trip to the toilet isn't filled with grunting.
Type 3: The Cracked Sausage
This is Hard, Lumpy Log Light. Instead of a knife loaf stabbing through your bowels, this BM is just big and dense, and a fair bit smoother. If there's uncomfortable straining, you'll still want to talk to your doc if it continues. However, if it's not difficult to pass, then you're in the land of normal stool -- if you still seek the perfect poop, here are some government-approved diet tips for better bowel function.
Type 4: The Smooth Snake
This is the Holy Grail of poops, which is to say, it's normal. The Smooth Snake softly slithers out of you with ease about once a day. This magnificent specimen is long, tapered, and usually achieved by a healthy, fiber-rich diet and plenty of water. You probably eat all your fruits and veggies. When you tell your doctor you're a Type 4, she'll probably applaud, but silently, to herself. You're doing good work.
Type 5: Poo Blobs
Poo Blobs are easy to pass, unlike Type 1, and have defined edges. You should be able to control when and where you expel them. They're still on the normal end of the spectrum, though perhaps more normal for those of you who go three times a day. However, they suggest a lack of fiber in the diet and are the entry point to the diarrhea end of the scale.
Type 6: Mushy Clouds
You don't want these clouds in your coffee, so to speak. We've entered the territory of mild-moderate diarrhea. You may have some trouble controlling the urge. Pray there's a bathroom nearby. There are lots of reasons why your stool is loose. Maybe you're stressed, or there's been a change in your diet, or you ate something that didn't agree with you. You should stay hydrated to replace lost fluids, and if it persists, you should check in with your doctor before taking any anti-diarrheal medication.
Type 7: Puddle
Well, you know what this is. It's running down the gutter with a piece of bread and butter... diarrhea! Drink lots of fluids with electrolytes and stay near a bathroom because you'll need it. Dash to the doctor if you've been suffering with this for more than a day, especially if you have nausea that prevents you from keeping liquids down, severe cramps, or if you've recently been traveling abroad. And if you have black, tarry stool of of this or any type, always see a doctor right away, as it might suggest internal bleeding.
So many factors can influence the shape and consistency of your stool, from medication to stress, sleep to diet. The NIH recommends keeping a fecal diary using the various BSF Scale types to track changes in your pooping patterns and help you discuss them with your doctor. The NIH also has tips for dealing with persistent bowel control issues, and know if nothing else, now you can answer any BM questions with the cool efficiency of a Brit. A simple number will suffice.
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