Feces (or faeces) are the solid or semisolid remains of food that could not be digested in the small intestine. Bacteria in the large intestine further break down the material. Feces contain a relatively small amount of metabolic waste products such as bacterially altered bilirubin, and the dead epithelial cells from the lining of the gut.
Feces can be used as fertilizer or soil conditioner in agriculture. It can also be burned as fuel or dried and used for construction. Some medicinal uses have been found. In the case of human feces, fecal transplants or fecal bacteriotherapy are in use. Urine and feces together are called excreta.
The distinctive odor of feces is due to bacterial action. Gut flora produces compounds such as indole, skatole, and thiols (sulfur-containing compounds), as well as the inorganic gas hydrogen sulfide. These are the same compounds responsible for the odor of flatulence. Consumption of spicy foods may result in the spices being undigested and adding to the odor.
The perceived bad odor of feces has been hypothesized to be a deterrent for humans, as consuming or touching it may result in sickness or infection. Human perception of the odor may be contrasted by a non-human animal's perception of it; for example, an animal who eats feces may be attracted to its odor.
Feces are discharged through the anus or cloaca during defecation. This process requires pressures that may reach 100 mm Hg in humans and 450 mm Hg in penguins. The forces required to expel the feces are generated through muscular contractions and a build-up of gases inside the gut, prompting the sphincter to relieve the pressure.
After an animal has digested eaten material, the remains of that material are discharged from its body as waste. Although it is lower in energy than the food from which it is derived, feces may retain a large amount of energy, often 50% of that of the original food. This means that of all food eaten, a significant amount of energy remains for the decomposers of ecosystems. Many organisms feed on feces, from bacteria to fungi to insects such as dung beetles, who can sense odors from long distances. Some may specialize in feces, while others may eat other foods. Feces serve not only as a basic food, but also as a supplement to the usual diet of some animals. This process is known as coprophagia, and occurs in various animal species such as young elephants eating the feces of their mothers to gain essential gut flora, or by other animals such as dogs, rabbits, and monkeys.
Seeds also may be found in feces. Animals who eat fruit are known as frugivores. An advantage for a plant in having fruit is that animals will eat the fruit and unknowingly disperse the seed in doing so. This mode of seed dispersal is highly successful, as seeds dispersed around the base of a plant are unlikely to succeed and often are subject to heavy predation. Provided the seed can withstand the pathway through the digestive system, it is not only likely to be far away from the parent plant, but is even provided with its own fertilizer.
Organisms that subsist on dead organic matter or detritus are known as detritivores, and play an important role in ecosystems by recycling organic matter back into a simpler form that plants and other autotrophs may absorb once again. This cycling of matter is known as the biogeochemical cycle. To maintain nutrients in soil it is therefore important that feces return to the area from which they came, which is not always the case in human society where food may be transported from rural areas to urban populations and then feces disposed of into a river or sea.
Depending on the individual and the circumstances, human beings may defecate several times a day, every day, or once every two or three days. The extensive hardening that interrupts this routine for several days or more is called constipation.
The appearance of human fecal matter varies according to diet and health. Normally it is semisolid, with a mucus coating. A combination of bile and bilirubin, which comes from dead red blood cells, gives feces the typical brown color.
After the meconium, the first stool expelled, a newborn's feces contain only bile, which gives it a yellow-green color. Breast feeding babies expel soft, pale yellowish, and not quite malodorous matter; but once the baby begins to eat, and the body starts expelling bilirubin from dead red blood cells, its matter acquires the familiar brown color.
At different times in their life, human beings will expel feces of different colors and textures. A stool that passes rapidly through the intestines will look greenish; lack of bilirubin will make the stool look like clay.
A coprolite is fossilized feces and is classified as a trace fossil. In paleontology they give evidence about the diet of an animal. They were first described by William Buckland in 1829. Prior to this they were known as "fossil fir cones" and "bezoar stones". They serve a valuable purpose in paleontology because they provide direct evidence of the predation and diet of extinct organisms. Coprolites may range in size from a few millimetres to more than 60 centimetres.
Palaeofeces are ancient human feces, often found as part of archaeological excavations or surveys. Intact feces of ancient people may be found in caves in arid climates and in other locations with suitable preservation conditions. These are studied to determine the diet and health of the people who produced them through the analysis of seeds, small bones, and parasite eggs found inside. These feces may contain information about the person excreting the material as well as information about the material. They also may be analyzed chemically for more in-depth information on the individual who excreted them, using lipid analysis and ancient DNA analysis. The success rate of usable DNA extraction is relatively high in paleofeces, making it more reliable than skeletal DNA retrieval.
The reason this analysis is possible at all is due to the digestive system not being entirely efficient, in the sense that not everything that passes through the digestive system is destroyed. Not all of the surviving material is recognizable, but some of it is. Generally, this material is the best indicator archaeologists can use to determine ancient diets, as no other part of the archaeological record is so direct an indicator.
A process that preserves feces in a way that they may be analyzed later is called the Maillard reaction. This reaction creates a casing of sugar that preserves the feces from the elements. To extract and analyze the information contained within, researchers generally have to freeze the feces and grind it up into powder for analysis.
Kopi Luwak (pronounced [ˈkopi ˈlu.aʔ]), or civet coffee, is coffee made from coffee berries that have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). Giant pandas provide fertilizer for the world's most expensive green tea. In Malaysia, tea is made from the droppings of stick insects fed on guava leaves.
Dog feces were used in the tanning process of leather during the Victorian era. Collected dog feces, known as "pure", "puer", or "pewer", were mixed with water to form a substance known as "bate." Enzymes in the dog feces helped to relax the fibrous structure of the hide before the final stages of tanning.
Feces is the scientific terminology, while the term stool is also commonly used in medical contexts. Outside of scientific contexts, these terms are less common, with the most common layman's term being poo (or poop in North American English). The term shit is also in common use, although is widely considered vulgar or offensive. There are many other terms, see below.
The word faeces is the plural of the Latin word faex meaning "dregs". In most English-language usage, there is no singular form, making the word a plurale tantum; out of various major dictionaries, only one enters variation from plural agreement.
There are many synonyms in informal registers for feces, just like there are for urine. Many are euphemismistic, colloquial, or both; some are profane (such as shit), whereas most belong chiefly to child-directed speech (such as poo or poop) or to crude humor (such as crap, dump, load and turd.).
The feces of animals often have special names, for example:
In all human cultures, feces elicit varying degrees of disgust in adults. Children under two years typically have no disgust response to it, suggesting it is culturally derived. Disgust toward feces appears to be strongest in cultures where flush toilets make olfactory contact with human feces minimal. Disgust is experienced primarily in relation to the sense of taste (either perceived or imagined) and, secondarily to anything that causes a similar feeling by sense of smell, touch, or vision.
Some pets can be trained to use litter boxes or wait to be allowed outside to defecate. Training can be done in several ways, especially dependent on species. An example is crate training for puppies. Several companies market cleaning products for pet owners whose pets have soiled carpets in their homes.
2 Girls 1 Cup is the unofficial nickname of the trailer for Hungry Bitches, a 2007 Brazilian scat-fetish pornographic film produced by MFX Media. The trailer features two women defecating into a cup, taking turns in what appears to be consuming the excrement, and vomiting into each other's mouths. "Lovers Theme" by Hervé Roy plays throughout the video.The video went viral and became one of the best known shock videos in itself and for the reactions its graphic content elicited from viewers who had not seen it before. Around mid-October 2007, video-sharing sites including YouTube were flooded with videos of the reactions of first-time viewers.Anal canal
The anal canal is the terminal part of the large intestine. It is situated between the rectum and anus, below the level of the pelvic diaphragm. In humans it is approximately 2.5 to 4 inches long. It lies in the anal triangle of perineum in between the right and left ischioanal fossa.
The anal canal is the short terminal portion of the rectum through which wastes from the large intestine are excreted from the body. The ring at the terminal portion of the anal canal is called the anus.
The anal canal is between 2.5" and 5" in length and is guarded by two muscles that control the release of waste from the rectum.
The external anal sphincter muscle is the voluntary muscle that surrounds and adheres to the anus at the lower margin of the anal canal. This muscle is in a state of tonic contraction, but during defecation, it relaxes to allow the release of feces.
Movement of the feces is also controlled by the involuntarily controlled internal anal sphincter which an extension of the circular muscle surrounding the anal canal. It relaxes to expel feces from the rectum and anal canal.
Anal canal is divided into three parts. The zona columnaris is the upper half of the canal and is lined by simple columnar epithelium. The lower half of the anal canal, below the pectinate line, is divided into two zones separated by Hilton's white line. The two parts are the zona hemorrhagica and zona cutanea, lined by stratified squamous non-keratinized and stratified squamous keratinized epithelium, respectively.
In humans it is approximately 2.5" to 4" long, extending from the anorectal junction to the anus. It is directed downwards and backwards. It is surrounded by inner involuntary and outer voluntary sphincters which keep the lumen closed in the form of an anteroposterior slit.
Behind this lies the anal gland which secretes lymphal discharge and built up fecal matter from the colon lining. In animals,
gland expungement can be done routinely every 24 – 36 months to prevent infection and fistula formation.
It is differentiated from the rectum by the transition of the internal surface from endodermal to skin-like ectodermal tissue.Coprolite
A coprolite (also known as a coprolith) is fossilized feces. Coprolites are classified as trace fossils as opposed to body fossils, as they give evidence for the animal's behaviour (in this case, diet) rather than morphology. The name is derived from the Greek words κόπρος (kopros, meaning "dung") and λίθος (lithos, meaning "stone"). They were first described by William Buckland in 1829. Prior to this they were known as "fossil fir cones" and "bezoar stones". They serve a valuable purpose in paleontology because they provide direct evidence of the predation and diet of extinct organisms. Coprolites may range in size from a few millimetres to over 60 centimetres.
Coprolites, distinct from paleofaeces, are fossilized animal dung. Like other fossils, coprolites have had much of their original composition replaced by mineral deposits such as silicates and calcium carbonates. Paleofaeces, on the other hand, retain much of their original organic composition and can be reconstituted to determine their original chemical properties, though in practice the term coprolite is also used for ancient human faecal material in archaeological contexts.Coprophagia
Coprophagia () or coprophagy () is the consumption of feces. The word is derived from the Greek κόπρος copros, "feces" and φαγεῖν phagein, "to eat". Coprophagy refers to many kinds of feces-eating, including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), of other individuals (allocoprophagy), or one's own (autocoprophagy) – those once deposited or taken directly from the anus.In humans, coprophagia has been described since the late nineteenth century in individuals with mental illnesses and in unconventional sexual acts. Some animal species eat feces as a normal behavior, in particular lagomorphs who do so to allow tough plant materials to be digested more thoroughly by passing twice through the digestive tract. Other species may eat feces under certain conditions.Coprophilia
Coprophilia (from Greek κόπρος, kópros—excrement and φιλία, philía—liking, fondness), also called scatophilia or scat (Greek: σκατά, skatá-feces), is the paraphilia involving sexual arousal and pleasure from feces. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, it is classified under 302.89 – Paraphilia NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) and has no diagnostic criteria other than a general statement about paraphilias that says "the diagnosis is made if the behavior, sexual urges, or fantasies cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning". Furthermore, the DSM-IV-TR notes, "Fantasies, behaviors, or objects are paraphilic only when they lead to clinically significant distress or impairment (e.g. are obligatory, result in sexual dysfunction, require participation of nonconsenting individuals, lead to legal complications, interfere with social relationships)".
Although there may be no connection between coprophilia and sadomasochism (SM), the limited data on the former comes from studies of the latter. A study of 164 males in Finland from two SM clubs found that 18.2% had engaged in coprophilia; 3% as a sadist, 6.1% as a masochist, and 9.1% as both. 18% of heterosexuals and 17% of homosexuals in the study pool had tried coprophilia, showing no statistically significant difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals. In a separate article analyzing 12 men who engaged in bestiality, an additional analysis of an 11-man subgroup revealed that 6 had engaged in coprophilic behavior, compared with only 1 in the matched control group consisting of 12 SM-oriented males who did not engage in bestiality.Defecation
Defecation is the final act of digestion, by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid, or liquid waste material from the digestive tract via the anus.
Humans expel feces with a frequency varying from a few times daily to a few times weekly. Waves of muscular contraction (known as peristalsis) in the walls of the colon move fecal matter through the digestive tract towards the rectum. Undigested food may also be expelled this way, in a process called egestion.
Open defecation, the practice of defecating outside without using a toilet of any kind, is still widespread in some developing countries, for example in India.Diarrhea
Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin with loss of the normal stretchiness of the skin and irritable behaviour. This can progress to decreased urination, loss of skin color, a fast heart rate, and a decrease in responsiveness as it becomes more severe. Loose but non-watery stools in babies who are exclusively breastfed, however, are normal.The most common cause is an infection of the intestines due to either a virus, bacteria, or parasite—a condition also known as gastroenteritis. These infections are often acquired from food or water that has been contaminated by feces, or directly from another person who is infected. The three types of diarrhea are: short duration watery diarrhea, short duration bloody diarrhea, and persistent diarrhea (lasting more than two weeks, which can be either watery or bloody). The short duration watery diarrhea may be due to cholera, although this is rare in the developed world. If blood is present, it is also known as dysentery. A number of non-infectious causes can result in diarrhea. These include lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, hyperthyroidism, bile acid diarrhea, and a number of medications. In most cases, stool cultures to confirm the exact cause are not required.Diarrhea can be prevented by improved sanitation, clean drinking water, and hand washing with soap. Breastfeeding for at least six months and vaccination against rotavirus is also recommended. Oral rehydration solution (ORS)—clean water with modest amounts of salts and sugar—is the treatment of choice. Zinc tablets are also recommended. These treatments have been estimated to have saved 50 million children in the past 25 years. When people have diarrhea it is recommended that they continue to eat healthy food and babies continue to be breastfed. If commercial ORS are not available, homemade solutions may be used. In those with severe dehydration, intravenous fluids may be required. Most cases; however, can be managed well with fluids by mouth. Antibiotics, while rarely used, may be recommended in a few cases such as those who have bloody diarrhea and a high fever, those with severe diarrhea following travelling, and those who grow specific bacteria or parasites in their stool. Loperamide may help decrease the number of bowel movements but is not recommended in those with severe disease.About 1.7 to 5 billion cases of diarrhea occur per year. It is most common in developing countries, where young children get diarrhea on average three times a year. Total deaths from diarrhea are estimated at 1.26 million in 2013—down from 2.58 million in 1990. In 2012, it was the second most common cause of deaths in children younger than five (0.76 million or 11%). Frequent episodes of diarrhea are also a common cause of malnutrition and the most common cause in those younger than five years of age. Other long term problems that can result include stunted growth and poor intellectual development.Dirty Sanchez (sexual act)
Dirty Sanchez is a purported sex act where feces are purposely smeared onto a partner's upper lip. Sex-advice columnist Dan Savage says the act is completely fictional. Brian Bouldrey in Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex says the act is an urban legend. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English says, "This appears to have been contrived with the intention to provoke shock rather than actually as a practice, although, no doubt, some have or will experiment."Fecal fat test
In medicine, the fecal fat test is a diagnostic test for fat malabsorption conditions, which lead to excess fat in the feces (steatorrhea).Fecal–oral route
The fecal–oral route (also called the oral–fecal route or orofecal route) describes a particular route of transmission of a disease wherein pathogens in fecal particles pass from one person to the mouth of another person. Main causes of fecal–oral disease transmission include lack of adequate sanitation (leading to open defecation), and poor hygiene practices. If soil or water bodies are polluted with fecal material, humans can be infected with waterborne diseases or soil-transmitted diseases. Fecal contamination of food is another form of fecal-oral transmission. Washing hands properly after changing a baby's diaper or after performing anal hygiene can prevent foodborne illness from spreading.
The common factors in the fecal-oral route can be summarized as five Fs: fingers, flies, fields, fluids, and food. Analingus, the sexual practice of licking or inserting the tongue into the anus of a partner, is another route. Diseases caused by fecal-oral transmission include diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, polio and hepatitis.Frass
Frass refers loosely to the more or less solid excreta of insects, and to certain other related matter.Human feces
Human feces (or faeces in British English; Latin: fæx) are the solid or semisolid remains of the food that could not be digested or absorbed in the small intestine of humans, but has been rotted down by bacteria in the large intestine. It also contains bacteria and a relatively small amount of metabolic waste products such as bacterially altered bilirubin, and the dead epithelial cells from the lining of the gut. It is discharged through the anus during a process called defecation.
Human feces have similarities to feces of other animals and vary significantly in appearance (i.e. size, color, texture), according to the state of the diet, digestive system and general health. Normally human feces are semisolid, with a mucus coating. Small pieces of harder, less moist feces can sometimes be seen impacted in the distal (final or lower) end. This is a normal occurrence when a prior bowel movement is incomplete, and feces are returned from the rectum to the large intestine, where water is absorbed.
In the medical literature, the term "stool" is more commonly used than "feces".Human feces together with human urine are collectively referred to as human waste or human excreta. Containing human feces, and preventing spreading of pathogens from human feces via the fecal–oral route, are the main goals of sanitation.Manure
Manure is organic matter, mostly derived from animal feces except in the case of green manure, which can be used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are utilised by bacteria, fungi and other organisms in the soil. Higher organisms then feed on the fungi and bacteria in a chain of life that comprises the soil food web.
In the past, the term "manure" included inorganic fertilizers, but this usage is now very rare.Meconium
Meconium is the earliest stool of a mammalian infant. Unlike later feces, meconium is composed of materials ingested during the time the infant spends in the uterus: intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water. Meconium, unlike later feces, is viscous and sticky like tar, its color usually being a very dark olive green; it is almost odorless. When diluted in amniotic fluid, it may appear in various shades of green, brown, or yellow. It should be completely passed by the end of the first few days after birth, with the stools progressing toward yellow (digested milk).
Meconium is normally retained in the infant's bowel until after birth, but sometimes it is expelled into the amniotic fluid (also called "amniotic liquor") prior to birth or during labor and delivery. The stained amniotic fluid (called "meconium liquor" or "meconium stained liquor") is recognized by medical staff as a possible sign of fetal distress. Some post-dates pregnancies (where the woman is more than 40 weeks pregnant) may also have meconium stained liquor without fetal distress. Medical staff may aspirate the meconium from the nose and mouth of a newborn immediately after delivery in the event the baby shows signs of respiratory distress to decrease the risk of meconium aspiration syndrome.
The issue of whether meconium is sterile remains debated and is an area of ongoing research. Although some researchers have reported evidence of bacteria in meconium, this has not been consistently confirmed. Other researchers have raised questions about whether these findings may be due to contamination after sample collection and that meconium is, in fact, sterile until after birth. Further researchers have hypothesized that there may be bacteria in the womb, but these are a normal part of pregnancy and could have an important role in shaping the developing immune system and are not harmful to the babyThe Latin term meconium derives from the Greek μηκώνιον, mēkōnion, a diminutive of μήκων, mēkōn, i.e. poppy, in reference either to its tar-like appearance that may resemble some raw opium preparations, or to Aristotle's belief that it induces sleep in the fetus.A symptom of both Hirschsprung's disease and cystic fibrosis is the failure to pass meconium.
Meconium can be tested for various drugs, to check for in utero exposure. Using meconium, a Canadian research group showed that by measuring a by-product of alcohol (FAEE) they could objectively detect excessive maternal drinking of alcohol during pregnancy. In the USA, the results of meconium testing may be used by child protective services and other law enforcement agencies to determine the eligibility of the parents to keep the newborn.Melena
Melena refers to the dark black, tarry feces that are associated with upper gastrointestinal bleeding. The black color and characteristic strong odor are caused by hemoglobin in the blood being altered by digestive enzymes and intestinal bacteria.Iron supplements may cause a grayish-black stool that should be distinguished from melena, as should black coloration caused by a number of medications, such as bismuth subsalicylate (the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol), or by foods such as beetroot, black liquorice, or blueberries.Pooper-scooper
A pooper-scooper, or poop scoop, is a device used to pick up animal feces from public places and yards, particularly those of dogs. Pooper-scooper devices often have a bag or bag attachment. 'Poop bags' are alternatives to pooper scoopers, and are simply a bag, usually turned inside out, to carry the feces to a proper disposal area. Sometimes, the person performing the cleanup is also known as the pooper-scooper.Scatology
In medicine and biology, scatology or coprology is the study of feces.
Scatological studies allow one to determine a wide range of biological information about a creature, including its diet (and thus where it has been), health and diseases such as tapeworms. The word derives from the Greek σκῶρ (GEN σκατός) meaning "dung, feces"; coprology derives from the Greek κόπρος of similar meaning.A comprehensive study of scatology was documented by John Gregory Bourke under the title Scatalogic Rites of All Nations (1891). An abbreviated version of the work (with a foreword by Sigmund Freud), was published as The Portable Scatalog in 1994.Steatorrhea
Steatorrhea (or steatorrhoea) is the presence of excess fat in feces. Stools may be bulky and difficult to flush, have a pale and oily appearance and can be especially foul-smelling. An oily anal leakage or some level of fecal incontinence may occur. There is increased fat excretion, which can be measured by determining the fecal fat level. The definition of how much fecal fat constitutes steatorrhea has not been standardized.Urine-diverting dry toilet
A urine-diverting dry toilet (UDDT) is a type of dry toilet with urine diversion that can be used to provide safe, affordable sanitation in a variety of contexts worldwide. The separate collection of feces and urine without any flush water has many advantages, such as odor-free operation and pathogen reduction by drying. While dried feces and urine harvested from UDDTs can be and routinely are used in agriculture (respectively, as a soil amendment and nutrient-rich fertilizer—this practice being known as reuse of excreta in agriculture), many UDDTs installations do not apply any sort of recovery scheme. The UDDT is an example of a technology that can be used to achieve a sustainable sanitation system. This dry excreta management system (or "dry sanitation" system) is an alternative to pit latrines and flush toilets, especially where water is scarce, a connection to a sewer system and centralized wastewater treatment plant is not feasible or desired, fertilizer and soil conditioner are needed for agriculture, or groundwater pollution should be minimized.
There are several types of UDDTs: the single vault type which has only one feces vault; the double vault type which has two feces vaults that are used alternately; and the mobile or portable UDDTs, which are a variation of the single vault type and are commercially manufactured or homemade from simple materials. A UDDT can be configured as a sitting toilet (with a urine diversion pedestal or bench) or as a squatting toilet (with a urine diversion squatting pan). The most important design elements of the UDDT are: source separation of urine and feces; waterless operation; and ventilated vaults (also called "chambers") or removable containers for feces storage and treatment. If anal cleansing takes place with water (i.e., the users are "washers" rather than "wipers"), then this anal cleansing water must be drained separately and not be allowed to enter the feces vault.
Some type of dry cover material is usually added to the feces vault directly after each defecation event. The dry cover material may be ash, sawdust, soil, sand, dried leaves, mineral lime, compost, or dried and decomposed feces collected in a UDDT after prudent storage and treatment. The cover material serves to improve aesthetics, control flies, reduce odor and speed up the drying process.