The Trauma of Stool Samples

It’s one of those things that you hope you never have to do in life, but I have twice had to give a stool sample for the doctor and they have been the most traumatic experiences of my life. Firstly, they give you a tiny sample jar, which I think is the same as the urine sample jar, which also has a little spatula built into the lid. When the Doctor gave it to me, I couldn’t hold back my horror as there is no way you can poo straight into it. So I asked her if she had any tips on how to use it? Then she had the look of horror as she was quite young and I’m pretty sure no one had asked her that before.


The Doctor told me that the easiest method is to defecate into another receptacle and then scoop the faeces from there into the sample jar. Why do Doctors talk like that? Is there a class at medical school called ‘You can’t say shit or poo to a Patient’? The first stool I had to give was the most traumatic as I was dreading it and put it off for nearly a week (note: I did actually poo during this time, I wasn’t storing it up or anything). When providing a sample, you want to do a good poo and I figured a solid poo would be easier to deal with in an el fresco situation.

My sample kit consisted of the sample jar and the bit of cardboard that Amazon wraps DVDs in when they send them to you. They are actually ideal as you can slide them under the toilet seat and they will reach to the other side of the toilet easily without risk of falling. So all you need to do for Step 1 of the process is do a poo like you would normally. In practice, it doesn’t feel normal though, it feels really weird.


Step 2 of the process is the most traumatic as you have to get some of the poo from your Amazon DVD cardboard to the sample jar and it makes me sick to even think about it again. The first thing that strikes you as you take a pause to mentally prepare yourself for what you need to do next, is that poo, when not in water, really does stink quite a lot. The second thing that strikes you is that the ‘handy’ spatula they provide is utterly pathetic as you push, probe and cut your own poo so it can be placed into the sample jar. I wretched several times before getting enough poo into the sample jar.

Step 3 is the disposal of the remaining poo and the Amazon DVD cardboard. The first is flushed and the second must leave your place of residence immediately!


Step 4 is to take the sample down to your Doctor or hospital. Handy tip here is to have already written your name on the sample jar. Trust me, you don’t want to have to write it on the jar with your own shit inside! By this point you feel good as all the traumatic stuff is out of the way, but Step 4 is actually quite traumatic too, much more than you realise. You have to carry your faeces whilst walking down the street and with other people around. You can’t carry it in your hand so you put it in your pocket and you can still feel the warmth from it. Your poo is really quite warm!

If steps 1-3 weren’t shameful enough for you and you’ve managed to cope with walking down the street holding your own excrement. You then have to hand your shit over to someone else. I had to do it at the GP Surgery reception. I was called forward and the guy said hello and I said I had a sample and very sheepishly handed it over, as if I was passing him drugs, and he held up a plastic tray for me to put it into as he definitely didn’t want to touch it.


Jake McMillan

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18 responses to “The Trauma of Stool Samples

  • Junk Drawer Kathy

    OMG! I’m sorry for your trauma, but this was hilarious!

    “…as you have to get some of the poo from your Amazon DVD cardboard to the sample jar”

    I will never look at an Amazon box the same.

  • FatFrank

    Thank you so much for making me laugh – I am completely sympathetic but oh my.. how other people’s trauma can ease your own!

  • EmyD

    I have to take in my own poo soon! Like you, I am also putting it off! But they need to check for bacteria to see if that is the cause of my abdominal pain. At least I don’t have to hand mine to anyone. When they call my name, I just have to walk in and place it in the sample drawer! Thanx doc for sparing me some embarrassment!
    Your story was great though! Made me LOL! Thanx for putting me more at ease! :o)

  • Nick

    Thank you so much for this!! I was lokimg up the process because I have to go get my “kit” tomorrow…. My wife and I were laughing so hard!!! My problem…. Is it will not be solid that is why I have to go through this trauma. Out with the DVD box in with a bucket. A bucket…

  • thirteen

    Hilarious! I just went through this experience, and I’m still not sure what they’ll do at the clinic when I get there this morning (or I purposely blocked out witnessing others give their poo to someone).

  • DreadingIt

    at least you got a bit of cardboard. I’ve got the containers with the scoop, but have to work out how I’m going to collect it. But I’ve been putting it off for nearly two months! My MIL (who does it once a year) says she catches hers in her (gloved) hand. I won’t be doing that.

  • Loz

    So glad I found this… I have to do this today & I was so nervous, but your article has actually put me at ease! Cheers!

  • cody e

    my god…i just did this just now and i am traumatized. I shit in this thingy they call “the hat” im like wtf?… scooped my shit out with a popsicle looking stick thing! I didn’t get enough so i had to do it AGAIN!! Sealed it so fucking tight (keeping in mind i doubled up on rubber gloves) threw away the “hat” with my shit inside it packed up the the trash made a very special trip to the landfill and threw away all my freakin trash…omg never again i hope…..oh yeah i nearly depleted 2 axe colon bottles so the smell wouldn’t make me gag…doctors are evil. EVIL I SAY!!!

  • Alvina

    Well… I have searched for a while trying to see if anyone had the same experience and put down on ciber…
    We are out there.

    For me the receptionist was a Man
    I am a Woman…. I am normally the most unembarressable type…. But only yesterday… I had to hand it in… Do it, get it over and done with…
    Well I thought I’d be clever like most I am sure, would do the same… Put it in an unseethrough Jiffy bag… Great hand it over ” um it’s my ample ” you get the drift… I couldn’t say sample.
    Sooo he takes it looking like the most unhappiest man, long gaunt face… That looks like he is over due a ciggy…
    He stands infront of me and opens the bag pulls out the tube and sorry to say this but my stool had lots of seeds in it… That was so ” oh no ” light brown in colour , my poo… And I stood there shocked… SHOCKED
    All I could say was ” so you’ve handled lots then ” as he failed to put gloves on
    And gripped it and opened the plastic bag that it was originally in to put the document in…

    Well after I left, my partner was in the car… I went ape stool… ” why would anyone do that” ” what happened to discretion

    That is my story… WHICH I really am going to complain , as much as it is realllly funny, as I see the funny side in every thing… Sometimes you gotta pull the stool from under people’s toes…

    :() x

  • a white coat

    From a lab point of view:

    @Alvina – we see obscene amounts of icky things (poo barely scrapes the surface), we get very desensitized very quickly. I only wear gloves if I’m taking off the lids

    @jakemcmillan – waiting until your poo was solid may have done more bad then good. For certain faeces tests we will refuse to process samples that are formed (ie: solid). Most diarrhoeal illnesses will sort themselves out given enough time, and in the lab someone will be poking at your poo with a cotton bud. Its a lot easier if its soft.

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