Bowel movements may be a key gastrointestinal health indicator, so it's important to know what's ideal when it comes to healthy poop. Thanks to the Bristol Stool Form Scale, you can use a number system to help understand what your bowel movement might be telling you. The scale classifies bowel movement consistency and may even help identify potential bowel irregularities such as constipation.
Here are the seven bowel movement categories according to the Bristol Stool Form Scale:
- Type 1: separate, hard, nut-shaped lumps that are hard to pass
- Type 2: sausage-shaped, but lumpy
- Type 3: looks like a fat sausage with cracks on the surface
- Type 4: soft and smooth, like a long, thin sausage or snake
- Type 5: soft blobs with clear-cut edges
- Type 6: fluffy pieces with ragged edges that are easy to pass
- Type 7: entirely liquid, with no solid pieces
When it comes to what constitutes a healthy bowel movement, for most people, the healthiest scores are right in the middle. There is no correct score to have. If you can best describe your poop as type #3, # 4 or #5, your bowel movements may be in a healthy range. If you most closely identified with type #1 or type #2, you may be straining, and if you scored a type #6 or type #7, your stools may be too loose.
If your bathroom habits are troublesome to you, discuss them with your healthcare provider. And, if no two bowel movements are the same, discuss that too. A change in your bowel habits is something to bring up.