Collect your stool sample in a sterile container provided to you by your doctor, nurse or Paramedical Staff. Store the container in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator if you can’t give it away right away.
Collect a stool sample
A GP or other healthcare professional, such as a nurse, should explain how to collect the sample.
At the hospital, the doctor or a staff member will give you a plastic container (for the sample).
Try not to collect urine (urine) with your stool, but don’t worry if you do. If you need to urinate, do so first before collecting stool.
To collect the sample:
- Label the container with your name, date of birth, and date.
- Place something in the toilet to catch the poop, such as a urinal or an empty plastic container, or spread a clean newspaper or plastic wrap over the edge of the toilet.
- Make sure the poop doesn’t touch the inside of the toilet.
- Use the spoon or spatula that comes with the container to pour the desired amount of poop into the container and then screw on the lid.
- Try to fill one-third of the container, about the size of a walnut.
- Throw the remaining poop down the toilet, put whatever you used to pick it up in a plastic bag, tie it up, and throw it in the bin.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm running water.
Follow any other instructions your doctor gives you.
Storing a stool sample.
Your poop sample should be fresh. Otherwise bacteria may grow. This means that the level of bacteria in a stool sample will not be the same as the level of bacteria in your digestive system. If the bacteria levels do not match, the test results may not be accurate.
Your sample should be sent as soon as possible, as sometimes it cannot be analyzed after being refrigerated. Your doctor will tell you if this is the case.
If you can’t deliver your sample right away, find out how long it can stay refrigerated. Your GP or the healthcare professional who ordered the test will be able to tell you. If you can refrigerate it, first place the container in a sealed plastic bag.
- Refrigeration: Ideally, deliver the sample to the lab within 24 hours. If you can’t immediately send it, store it in the refrigerator at around 4°C (39°F) until you can.
- Avoid Freezing: Unless specified by the lab, avoid freezing the sample as it may degrade certain components.
- Transportation: When transporting the sample, keep it cool using a small cooler or insulated bag with an ice pack if the transit time is more than an hour.
What are stool samples used for?
Your GP or other health professional may ask for a stool sample to help diagnose or rule out a particular health condition.
Poop contains bacteria and other substances from the digestive system.
By analyzing the levels of these substances and bacteria in the stool, it is possible to discover what is happening in the digestive system.
For example, a sample may be analyzed to help diagnose:
- Gastroenteritis, a common condition that causes diarrhea and vomiting and is usually the result of a bacterial or viral stomach virus.
- Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease, a condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system, and ulcerative colitis, a condition in which the colon and rectum become inflamed.
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