Do I really want to know what’s in my poop?

Out of the blue, my wife told me she’d really like to participate in this study of gut flora — we could find out what’s inhabiting our colons, together!

I’m still trying to figure out if that’s really romantic, or weird, or what. But it’s real science and might help people learn something, so it’s probably worth doing anyway.


  1. Cuttlefish says

    My students envision a brisk business in boutique gut flora transplants–clean out your own, and repopulate (I originally mistyped “repoopulate”, which might actually be a great trade name for the procedure–you read it here first!) with flora from your favorite athlete, actor, or FtB blogger (ok, that last one wasn’t their idea). “I may be out of shape, but I have the gut flora of an olympian!”

  2. Anthony K says

    Wait: there’s a scientific reason to poop in a box and send it through the mail?

    Check and mate, Canada Post’s lawyers, check and mate.

  3. marcus says

    Not to mention that “fecal transplant” therapy for certain digestive disorders is a new and exciting(?) treatment option for those who suffer a dearth of the proper microorganisms.

  4. Winters says

    Not sure how I feel about dropping a bag of turds in the mail with my return address on there.

    Can I send it to one of you guys and you forward it for me?

  5. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ugh. Ech. I’m not squeamish about most things but poo is just the most disgusting fucking thing ever. My college roommate was right to describe it as an unpleasant indignity that humans should not have to suffer through once, let alone every morning.

  6. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Yes, you do, if what your poop contains is occult blood. – Kevin

    Yup, as a 50+ year-old living in Scotland, every couple of years I get a polite invitation to send a (small) sample of my poop off in the mail for the NHS to test for occult blood, as part of the Scottish colon cancer screening programme. Of course, maybe they really want it to cast a spell on me, but I’m prepared to take that risk.

  7. Ogvorbis says

    Thanks to having children, who poop, I still cannot stomach the idea of butterscotch pudding.

    A whitewater raft guide I knew when I was back in high school almost lost his arm from infection when a small piece of river-water-soaked wood got implanted, rather suddenly, in his bicep. Eight months of antibiotics, minor surgery, and countless visits to doctors, he got past the infection. It took an additional six months to repopulate his gut with the useful stuff. I cannot imagine 14 months of diarrhea. But, thanks to PZed, that’s where my mind went.

  8. Tony the Queer Shoop (proud supporter of Radical Feminism) says

    Shoot, PZ. That sounds like a craptastic idea :)

  9. Tony the Queer Shoop (proud supporter of Radical Feminism) says

    I will second everything said by our resident SpokesGay.

  10. jnorris says

    I imagine the postal worker delivering the boxes of poop to the door of the lab, pouring gas on them, lighting a match, ringing the door bell, and ru…

  11. jinxmchue says

    “w cld fnd t wht’s nhbtng r clns, tgthr!”

    Yr hds?

    [Jebus, now this moron comes back. Bye. –pzm]

  12. Tony the Queer Shoop (proud supporter of Radical Feminism) says

    hurr hurr…
    Your heads are up your asses.
    Gosh that was really funny.
    ::rolls eyes::

  13. Ogvorbis says

    You know what they say, “The couple that poops together…”

    I am amazed that no one has mentioned “Two women, one cup.” What’s wrong with y’all?

  14. cyberCMDR says

    We need a side study, to see if the gut flora from anyone who works at Answers in Genesis can be distinguished from what comes out of their mouths….

  15. RFW says

    Spare me, please everyone, snarks about poop. Poop may not be the most pleasant stuff in this world, but it’s an essential part of the great dance of life. Just deal with it when necessary, no commentary needed. As the saying has it, shit happens.

    For P-zed hisself, a little bet: that you and your wife have pretty much the same intestinal flora. I am convinced that, given how many people don’t wash their hands after POOPING (yikes! there’s that word again!), our living spaces have a thin film of POOP everywhere, and those who live together soon join together in a way not envisioned by believers in marital bliss nor those who wrote the marriage service.

  16. Blueaussi says

    Josh and Tony:

    Don’t be so squeamish, it’s not a big deal. I deal with it all the time. Seriously, my Indian name is Dances with DooDoo. Were I a Catholic saint, I would be Our Lady of Perpetual Poo. Anal Excretions are my life.

    At work, I observe what does in one end and measure what comes out of the other. I note size, appearance, consistency, color, and smell. Sometimes I peer anxiously at a pink and puckered orifice awaiting the poo product, sometimes I encourage it with a bit of lube or soap. I take samples back to the lab for fun-filled days of testing. Then I write colorful-yet-veterinarian-pathologist approved descriptions of the poo samples and poo test results and forward them to my boss. Finally, I dispose of the leftover poo in an Environmental Health and Safety approved manner.

    At home, I follow my troop of cats, dogs, and the tortoise around gazing intently at all poo production, looking for the first hint of a sign of possible changes in health status. Then I gather up the aforementioned poo and dispose of it any way I can. Well, except for chucking it over the fence into the neighbor’s yard.

    And that’s not even counting the earthworm poo I actively cultivate for the garden! Or the Kricket Krap. Or the rabbit coco puffs. Or…

  17. A. R says

    Oh, women poop alright. Some of them have colons capable of keeping up with the colon of any man, and surpassing many. (A few years of healthcare work teaches you this quicklike).

  18. David Marjanović says

    many people don’t wash their hands after POOPING

    Seriously? Do they think toilet paper is watertight?

  19. RFW says

    @ 25 Marjanović:

    All you have to do is sit near the restroom door(s) in any Starbucks for a while. You will hear many fewer runnings of the water in the sink than flushings of the toilet.

    PS: You need to wash after urination, too. Within an hour after showering, your genitals are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Reference: my doctor, years ago, when I had hepatitis and he was giving me the rundown on hygiene so as not to infect others.

  20. says

    (A few years of healthcare work teaches you this quicklike).

    My mother, who is a nurse, first in OB/GYN and then in the ER, would sometimes return home from work with stories about women who, upon being told that, “You may find yourself passing gas a lot after this procedure,” would respond, “Oh! I never do that.

  21. says

    I’d want to know what’s in my gut. I was actually pondering this very thing recently. I had finished listening to a Skeptics’ Guide podcast (kinda old episode from 2008) where they discussed how gut flora might affect obesity. I also notice that I do not handle some foods (especially really processed foods) as well as my significant other and was wondering if there was a way I could improve my gut health.

    I wish I’d gotten into this earlier because coincidentally Jonathan Eisen works at my alma mater, UC Davis. I was a biology major too.