Different Types of Poop and What They Mean

Poo, also referred to as stool or faeces, is a combination of substances that come from your stomach and intestines, forming a waste product filled with proteins, bacteria, undigested food and salt. While unpleasant, your poop is a critical indicator of your gut health.

Therefore, it’s essential that from time to time, we take note of our bowel habits and inspect our poop to ensure that our gut is in working condition! To help you understand your stool, we’ll define what healthy bowel movement is, and explain the different types of poop that could be of concern.

How to Know If Your Poop Is Healthy

Checking the toilet bowl is an easy and important way to conduct self-examinations on your gut health. There are various elements to look out for when checking your stool. 

These include:

  • Frequency
  • Consistency 
  • Colour

After you pass stool, be sure to examine it with the following guidelines in mind. 


How Many Times Should You Poop a Day?

Ideally, a healthy bowel movement will require you to be pooping a minimum of 3 times a week to a maximum of 3 times a day.

In instances where you are visiting the bathroom less than 3 times a week, you could be suffering from constipation. Meanwhile, if you’re pooping more than 3 times a day, you may have mild diarrhoea.


What is the Normal Consistency of Poop?

Normal poop should have a smooth surface with a soft to semi-firm texture. This consistency of your stool makes it easier to pass, causing you to strain less and spend less time on the toilet. 

For a visual indication of healthy poop, you can refer to the Bristol stool scale. The Bristol stool scale is a clinical assessment of your stool, providing 7 different images of poop to indicate their type.

According to the Bristol stool chart, these include

  • Type 1 – Separate hard lumps that are hard to pass and generally signal chronic constipation. 
  • Type 2 – Lumpy and log or sausage-shaped poops that are firm in texture and more challenging to pass; we consider this an indication of a less severe form of constipation. 
  • Type 3 – Cracked surface and log sausage-shaped poops that are easy to pass, indicating optimal bowel function and digestive tract health. 
  • Type 4 – Smooth and snake-shaped poops that are softer than type 3, but still considered as an indicator of sound gut health.
  • Type 5 – Soft blobs with edges that have semi-defined shapes, demonstrating that you could use more soluble fibre.
  • Type 6 – Flakey pieces with ragged edges that take the form of diarrhoea, causing rapid passing bowel movements, which can cause dehydration. If you have chronic diarrhoea with this consistency, we recommend booking an appointment with our gut health specialists for further examination.  
  • Type 7 – Completely liquidated poops that are watery in consistency, frequent, and arrive unexpectedly. We recommend you drink plenty of water and book an appointment with The Centre of Gastrointestinal Health if you frequently pass this type of poop.

Types 3 and 4 are the best shapes of poop that you should aim to pass, as they demonstrate optimal bowel movements, healthy gut bacteria levels and sound intestinal wellbeing.


What Colour is a Healthy Stool?

Typically, healthy poop colour should range from light to dark brown. The brownish colour results from broken-down red blood cells and stomach bile mixing, indicating that your digestive system is functioning correctly.

However, you may notice that your poop colour is not always brown and instead comes in various shades. Each colour can signal an underlying health condition that may impact your gut or digestive process. This next section will discuss some of the different types of poop you may encounter, their meaning, and some effective treatment options to help promote healthy bowel movements.

Infographic that visualises the different types of poop.

Orange Poop

If you have noticed that your poop is orange, there is no need to worry. An orange coloured stool is often benign and temporary, simply caused by consuming foods that change the pigmentation of your bowel movements.

However, there may be some other underlying causes.


Common Causes

Your orange poop colour may be a result of:

  • Consuming orange foods: These foods contain beta-carotene, a type of pigment that can change the colour of your stool. Foods that contain this orange pigment include sweet potatoes, squash, carrots or cantaloupe.
  • Medications: Your orange poop may also result from medicines containing aluminium hydroxide. Antacids and the antibiotic rifampin have also been linked to producing an orange coloured stool. 
  • Blocked Bile Ducts: While more common in babies, a blocked bile duct could be a cause for your orange coloured poop. Bile duct obstruction commonly occurs due to gallstones, inflammation, pancreatitis strictures, tumours, infections, or cysts. 



If you’re frequently passing orange stool, we suggest replacing foods rich in beta-carotene with other healthy alternatives. In the following days, be sure to examine your stool colour to see if it changes to a healthy brown. Alternatively, if you believe that medication may be affecting the colour of your stool, speak to your doctor and discuss alternative options that avoid aluminium hydroxide.

In the instance that your stool maintains its orange colour, you should consult a gastroenterologist for an examination. Your gastroenterologist may suggest a colonoscopy or endoscopy to investigate a potential bile obstruction and start treatment if necessary.

Bright Yellow Diarrhoea 

Regularly passing bright yellow stool that is watery in texture may be a point of concern, as it could indicate that you have giardiasis. It’s important to note the colour intensity of yellow in your stool, as more pale diarrhoea is linked to other issues related to your liver, gallbladder or pancreas.


Common Causes

Some common causes for your bright yellow diarrhoea are:

  • Fatty diet: Too much fat can influence healthy digestion, making waste rapidly pass through the intestinal tract and cause a yellow watery stool. 
  • Stress and anxiety: Cause our digestive process to work faster and result in more rapid bowel movements. As a result, this influences your gut’s ability to break down food, leaving undigested fats that cause a yellow and watery stool. 
  • Giardiasis: A parasitic infection in your small intestine transmitted through direct contact with infected people, pets, food, or water. This causes an exceptionally bright yellow stool that is watery in texture.



If you believe that your yellow stool is diet-related, try eliminating fatty foods from your diet. Furthermore, if you’re passing yellow diarrhoea, avoid consuming any dairy products for 2 to 5 days while maintaining a regular intake of hydrating fluids. During this time, attempt to minimise stress and anxiety to help your gut recuperate.

In the instance where your yellow watery stool persists, you should consider consulting a doctor for further examination. While giardiasis is a serious intestinal infection, there are treatments widely available that will help your body eliminate the parasite. 

Pale Stool

Pale stool, also considered a lighter yellow, is abnormal poop that could indicate problems with your pancreas, liver, or gallbladder.

Where bright yellow stool is linked to a specific intestinal infection, slightly paler poop colours typically suggest issues with bile production. However, other gut diseases are known to cause pale yellow stool.


Common Causes

In instances where your stool is more of a pale yellow colour, you may have issues such as:

  • Cirrhosis, gallstones or hepatitis: Cause a lack of bile, a yellow digestive substance responsible for processing fats and fatty acids. Where too much bile can cause a particularly yellow stool, a lack of the substance can cause pale white stools.
  • Cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, or obstructed pancreatic ducts: Inhibit the pancreas’ ability to produce enzymes that break down fat. As a result, the lack of these digestive enzymes causes a pale stool colour.
  • Celiac disease: A gluten intolerance that attacks your small intestines and reduces your gut’s ability to absorb fat effectively. This consequently can produce an oily and pale stool.
  • Weight loss medication and probiotic supplements: Limits your ability to absorb fat in the small intestine, causing a pale yellow stool colour and rapid bowel movements.



If you have noticed that your poop is a pale yellow to white colour, assess the current medications or supplements you’re taking, as this could influence your stool form. You should consult your doctor to assess alternative treatment options if you believe that certain medications or supplements impact your stool colour. 

However, if you’re experiencing other symptoms such as abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue or fainting, in that case, you should consult a doctor immediately. These symptoms are commonly linked to liver, pancreas, and gallbladder issues. Consequently, your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist for an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Following this, your gastroenterologist will recommend treatment according to your specific diagnosed condition. 

White Spots in Poop

White spots or specks in your poop indicate several gastrointestinal disorders. For this reason, it’s important to think if you’ve experienced any other abnormal health symptoms over the past week, as white specks flag multiple health issues.

However, in most instances, white spots in your stool can simply be corrected through a few small diet changes.


Common Causes

Some common causes of white spots in your poop include:

  • Diet: Some foods can be harder to digest than others, including nuts. As a result, these white undigested foods pass through the intestines without being properly broken down and can therefore still be visible in your poop. 
  • Malabsorption: Limits the gut’s ability to process fats, causing bulky pale stools with noticeable white specks. 
  • Celiac disease: Similar to malabsorption, this autoimmune disease inhibits the ability to break down nutrients in food. As a result, this can leave undigested food in our stool, including white spots. 
  • Medications: Plastic capsule medications can be difficult for the body to absorb, therefore appearing as a white speck in your stool. 
  • Parasitic infection: Parasites can also cause white spots in your stool, most commonly including tapeworms or pinworms. 
  • Fungal infection: If you find small white clumps in your stool, it could indicate a fungal infection. Common fungal infections include yeast or candida infections. 



When finding white spots or specks in your stool, there are two questions that you should ask yourself:

  • Is this the first time I’ve seen my stool with white spots?
  • Have I taken any hard casing capsule medication recently?

If this is your first time passing white specked-stool, try assessing your diet and eliminating any foods that could be impacting the colour. Meanwhile, if you have taken capsule medication, consult your doctor for alternative forms of the drug and assess your stool over the following week. 

Consider consulting a doctor if you’re experiencing other symptoms such as functional constipation, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. Depending on your symptoms, you may be required to undergo a blood test, upper endoscopy or ultrasound. 

Black Spots in Poop 

Most commonly, black spots in your stool depend on the type of food you consume. These black spots can vary in size; at times, they are similar to the appearance of coffee grounds, while in other instances, they can be dark patches on the surface of your poop.

However, if you consistently find black spots in your stool over an extended period, it could be more serious, as this typically indicates gastrointestinal bleeding.


Common Causes

Your black stool could be caused from:

  • Diet: The body struggles to absorb several foods. Therefore, it is likely that black specks in your stool could simply be undigested food. Such foods that could appear as black spots in your poop include blueberries, seeds, plums, black pepper, figs or foods that contain dark food colouring.
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding: Dark spots could also be attributed to bleeding in the upper digestive tract. Bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract is caused by liver disease, tears, lesions or inflammations. 
  • Iron supplements: While this mineral is essential for our body to grow and function healthily, an excessive amount can cause large black patches in our stool. Taking iron supplements is a great idea to boost your body’s mineral levels; however, taking an excessive amount may cause blackened stool. 
  • Medication: Drugs containing the ingredient bismuth can cause a temporary colour change in our stool to possess black specks. 



When examining your black-specked stool, try to recall your diet since your last bowel movement and note any black or dark food substances you may have consumed. If you can think of multiple foods, it is likely that the black spots in your poop are diet-related and therefore require no immediate treatment.

However, if you are finding that you have regular black spots in your stool, you should seek medical assistance. You may need to undergo a colonoscopy or a blood count test to examine the possibility of internal bleeding.

In the instance where a gastroenterologist finds evidence of upper gastrointestinal bleeding, you will need to have it burnt shut to minimise blood flow.

Blood in Stool

If you have red poop (including bright red specks) or noticed spotting when wiping, you should consult a doctor as you may be experiencing bleeding in your digestive tract.

Where dark spots indicate bleeding in your upper gastrointestinal tract, bright red stools flag bleeding in your lower intestines and could flag a range of health issues.


Common Causes

Some issues linked to blood in your stool include:

  • Anal fissures:  A split or crack around the anus, often caused by trying to pass hard stool that tears the skin.
  • Bowel cancer: The presence of tumours or legions in your bowel can result in blood in your stool. 
  • Colorectal polyps: A pre-cancerous growth in your bowel that can bleed at times. Therefore, this can result in rectal bleeding and bloody stools.
  • Haemorrhoids: A swollen vein located either on the anus or rectum. This can cause bleeding at times when trying to pass large bowel movements. 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): The inflammation of the small or large intestine which can cause rectal bleeding.
  • Fistula: The infection of a small gland inside the anus causes a build-up of pus and blood that may lead to red coloured poop. 
  • Prolapse: Occurs when the rectum falls outside of the anus, causing several issues that include rectal bleeding.



The first step for treating blood in your stool is to consult medical assistance as soon as possible. Depending on your symptoms, you will need to undergo a range of investigative procedures, including a rectal examination, colonoscopy, bowel cancer screening or gastroscopy.

Your treatment will vary depending on your diagnosis. Conditions such as haemorrhoids or anal fissures can repair by themselves over time. However, other diseases such as polyps will require surgery to correct the cause of bleeding.

Meanwhile, if you have been diagnosed with IBD, you will need ongoing support from a qualified gastroenterologist to manage the chronic disease.

Foamy Poop 

Foamy poop, also described as frothy and oily in texture, is a bubbly stool that could be a warning flag for severe health conditions. However, you can often correct foamy stool through small diet changes that eliminate excess fat consumption.


Common Causes

Some causes of your foamy poop could include:

  • Malabsorption: Your body’s inability to break down certain nutrients could cause foamy poop. This is most common with eggs, dairy, seafood, and fructose foods. 
  • Pancreatitis: The condition restricts your body’s ability to break down fats, which can therefore cause bubbly and foamy stool.
  • Infection: A range of infections in the gastrointestinal tract cause gas bubbles, in return causing your bowel movements to appear visibly foamy.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): The chronic disease causes mucus production in our stool, giving your poop a foamy appearance. 



If you have noticed that your stool is foamy, you should examine your bowel movements and monitor for any other symptoms. If your stool hasn’t returned to the consistency of healthy poops, you should consider a doctor. Your doctor may suggest making a few small diet changes to reduce your fat consumption to minimise the frothiness in your poop.

In some instances, you should seek medical attention immediately. This includes if you find blood or mucus in your stool, as this is a standard indicator of IBS. Or, if you have chronic and acute stomach pain, you may have pancreatitis.

Sloppy Poo

Sloppy poops, also described as loose stools, are bowel movements with a mushy consistency and a strong foul smell. Commonly, you may experience sloppy poops after consuming foods that may upset your stomach.

However, chronic loose stools could indicate a range of gastrointestinal disorders that will require medical attention.


Common Causes

Your poo may be sloppy and mushy due to:

  • Diet: Coffee, alcohol, oily and spicy foods are all linked to causing loose bowel movements. 
  • Food poisoning: Infections from any food or drink you have recently consumed can cause diarrhoea and sloppy poops.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: The digestive disease attacks our intestine, causing chronic diarrhoea and sloppy poops.
  • Celiac disease: The gut’s inability to break down gluten is known to cause loose sloppy stools. 
  • Lactose intolerance: The consumption of beverages and food that contain dairy can cause loose bowel movements if your body cannot break down lactose.
  • Medications: Excessive consumption of magnesium can cause sloppy poops. Meanwhile, some antibiotics and chemotherapy can also cause loose stools.
  • Ulcerative colitis: The inflammation of the digestive tract can also cause loose bowel movements.



If you are experiencing sloppy bowel movements, you should consult your doctor. They may recommend a range of diet changes and diarrhoea medications to help increase your fibre intake.

In instances where your loose stool is chronic, you may need to consult a gastroenterologist for further examination. If you have been diagnosed with digestive disorders such as celiac’s disease, IBS, or lactose intolerance, you will need to make several diet changes to cater for your gut.

When to See a Gastroenterologist 

While it can be embarrassing to speak about our bowel movements, being proactive about our gut health is the best way to protect our digestive system.

If you have noticed that your stool is abnormal, the best action point is to contact your local general practitioner for an appointment. Following this, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist for further examination. Our team at The Centre for Gastrointestinal Health are experts in various digestive disorders, helping with diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management to guarantee your optimal gut health.