If your stool looks like an S, congrats! This is the ideal shape for a healthy bowel movement. It’s the shape of your rectum near your anus. If your stool spells this letter, it’s a sign your intestines are working well and likely means you’re eating a well-balanced diet and getting enough fiber to keep things moving through your digestive system.
Or at least, it’s the normal color for poop, thanks to bile, which turns it this hue. If your stool is some other color, you could be in trouble. Here’s a quick BM color decoder:
- Black: While it can look frightening, black poop may be a benign side effect of taking an upset stomach remedy like Pepto-Bismol. If you have black stool on a regular basis, it could signal a more serious issue, like bleeding from the upper part of the GI tract.
- Green: Seeing green could mean the stool went too quickly through your intestines, a sign of nutrient malabsorption. This can happen in people with Crohn’s disease. It could also be a side effect of antibiotics or eating a lot of leafy greens.
- Red: If you have red-tinted bowel movements, tell your doctor. It could mean you have a lower-GI bleed. It could also simply mean you ate a lot of beets.
- Yellow (clay-colored): This could indicate an issue with the gallbladder. It could also be a sign of an infection in the GI tract.
- White: This is often a sign of fat malabsorption, which could indicate pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. It also could be a sign of inflammation if accompanied by mucus.
If your stool hits the water with a forceful plop that leaves your buttocks drenched, or you strain like you’re in labor to pass what feels like small rocks or marbles, then you are constipated. Don’t feel too bad—it’s the most common digestive complaint in America, and a Western diet low in fiber is the main culprit.