WHEN was the last time you took a look after you went to the toilet?
Many of us will flush and get on with our days, but knowing what your poo should look like can tell you a lot about your health.
In fact, your number twos could be the first sign of serious disease.
Poos can vary in colour and consistency, depending on several factors like your diet, digestive health and underlying illness.
But if you suffer any drastic changes in your bowel movements then it could be a red flag sign for bowel cancer.
Knowing the early warning signs of bowel cancer can save lives, catch the disease at stage 1 and 97 per cent of people live five years or longer.
But catch it at stage 4 – when it’s already spread – and that survival rate plummets to just seven per cent.
That’s why The Sun launched the No Time 2 Lose campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer – and to break down the poo taboo, and get everyone talking and thinking about their insides.
What colour should your poo be?
A healthy poo should be a medium brown, but that doesn’t mean it won’t sometimes be another colour.
But there are some colours that you need to worry about, so make sure you keep an eye on what goes into the toilet.
This can be a sign of something quite serious – internal bleeding.
“A black stool indicates bleeding from somewhere within the digestive tract so if someone presents with that you would really want to investigate both the bowel and the stomach,” says registered nurse Charlotte Dawson, head of support and information at Bowel Cancer UK.
Black poo is a red flag sign for bowel cancer, as well as bright red blood in the poo, so don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor.
Red poo can also be caused by blood in the poo.
As well as bowel cancer this can indicate another condition called haemorrhoids, or piles.
These are swellings of blood vessels found inside your bottom.
They normally don’t cause any pain or discomfort but can cause bleeding, itching and swelling.
If the symptoms persist you should speak to a doctor.
Your poop can also be green.
This is usually nothing to worry about as it is often caused by a diet high in green vegetables, but if you have unusual symptoms with it speak to your GP.
The colour can be caused by bile in the poo.
Bile is a brownish-green liquid created by the liver that helps aid digestion, but it can sometimes turn your poo a little to the green side.
It’s nothing to worry about, it just means your liver and pancreas are working normally.
If your poo has a light colour or fatty consistency it could be a number of things.
A high fat diet can cause excess fat in your poop, so you may need to start eating healthier.
But a lighter coloured poo can also indicate a problem with your pancreas.
“That can indicate problems with the pancreas or gall bladder, when you have problems with the pancreas it can create a fatty, creamy coloured stool which is quite loose.”
What should a healthy poo look like?
There are seven types of poop, according to the Bristol Stool Chart, and the type you expel depends on how long it spent in your bowel.
But your overall health also plays a role in what your poo looks like.
Based on the stool chart, types one and two indicate constipation, types three and four are the ideal poos and types five to seven indicate diarrhoea.
THERE'S NO TIME 2 LOSE
THE Sun’s No Time 2 Lose campaign aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.
And it called on the Government to lower the screening age from 60 to 50 – to bring it in line with Scotland.
Last summer, the health secretary Matt Hancock listened and agreed to start bowel cancer screening at 50 – meaning everyone in England will get a test on their 50th birthday.
A date for the roll out of screening at 50 has yet to be announced.
But the move could save more than 4,500 lives a year, experts say.
Bowel cancer is the second deadliest form of the disease, but it can be cured if it’s caught early – or better still prevented.
Caught at stage 1 – the earliest stage – patients have a 97 per cent chance of living for five years or longer.
But catch it at stage 4 – when it’s already spread – and that chance plummets to just seven per cent.
Last April, Lauren Backler, whose mum died of the disease at the age of 55, joined forces with The Sun to launch the No Time 2 Lose campaign, also supported by Bowel Cancer UK.
Lauren delivered a petition to the Department of Health complete with almost 450,000 signatures, to put pressure on the Government to change the screening age – a move that could save the NHS millions.
She believes her mum could have been saved if screening had been available – and now campaigns to ensure others don’t lose their loved ones to this potentially curable disease.
What consistency should your poop be?
If your bowel is healthy you should be able to hold onto your poo for a short time after you realise you need the loo, you should be able to go without straining or feeling pain and you should be able to completely empty your bowel.
Anything other than that could indicate a more serious condition, like bowel cancer or irritable bowel syndrome.
The Bristol Stool Chart suggests that your numbers twos should be type two or three – like a sausage with a few cracks or like a sausage but smooth.
It is important to know what a normal poo is for you, explained registered nurse Charlotte.
“It [a healthy poo] should be a medium brown, it should be soft but not liquid, it should be easy to expel so you aren’t straining and it shouldn’t have a lot of cracks and fissures as that indicates constipation,” she told The Sun Online.
“If you have a very hard, knobbly, cracked poo that shows that it is very dry and therefore very constipated then that’s not particularly healthy.
“Then at the other end, if it is very loose, very liquid or has mucus in it then it is an unhealthy stool.”
Constipation is often caused by not eating enough fibre, not drinking enough water, a change in diet, stress or anxiety and medication, according to the NHS.
Diarrhoea can be caused by a tummy bug, change in diet, drinking too much alcohol and medication.
For both of these conditions the symptoms should pass within a few days, but if they are persistent you should seek medical help.
What if you poo has never looked like that?
The consistency of your poo is very dependent on your digestive system.
You may have a slow system that makes your poo slightly hard, or your bowel might work quicker to give your looser poops.
“If you are looking at the Bristol Stool Chart then a type three or four, which is middle of the road, is considered normal – but everyone is different,” Charlotte said.
“The big point to raise is ‘what is not normal for you?’.
“It may be that someone normally has a hard, constipated, pellet type poo or maybe they are always on the softer side, but if that is what is normal for them and they have been living with that for years then it is unlikely to represent something like bowel cancer.
“If they are noticing a change in their bowel habit and in their stool and they have gone from something that is soft to loose, liquid and more frequent stools, that is something to report to their doctor.”
MORE ON NO TIME 2 LOSE
How often should you poo?
Again, this very much comes down to what is normal for you.
If you are someone that needs to poop once a day or someone that poops twice a day there’s nothing to worry about.
You could even be someone that poops several times a day or once every few day.
The main thing to be aware off when it comes to frequency, as well as colour and consistency, is that any changes need to be check out by a doctor.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours