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    Stool Culture

    How It Feels

    Most people do not feel pain when they collect a stool sample.

    If your doctor collects the stool sample using a cotton swab, you may feel some pressure or discomfort as the cotton swab is inserted into your rectum.


    There is no chance for problems while collecting a stool sample.

    Be sure to wear gloves when you collect the sample. Wash your hands before and after you collect the sample. This will help protect you from spreading an infection.


    A stool culture is done to find bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi that may be causing an infection.

    Stool culture test results usually take 2 to 3 days. But some cultures for fungus and parasites may take weeks to get results.

    Stool culture

    No disease-causing bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses are present or grow in the culture.


    Bacteria (such as salmonella, shigella, or certain types of E. coliE. coli) grow in the culture. Fungi such as yeast are found in the stool.

    If bacteria are found in the culture, sensitivity testing may be done to help choose the best treatment.

    Your stool also may be looked at under a microscope to check for parasites such as Giardia.

    What Affects the Test

    You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:

    • You recently used antibiotics, medicine (such as bismuth) to control diarrhea, enemas, or laxatives.
    • You recently had X-ray tests using a contrast material containing barium.
    • Your stool sample is mixed with urine.
    • You do not have a large enough sample.
    • You did not get the stool sample to the lab for testing quickly enough.

    What To Think About

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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