Causes, Treatment, Seeking Medical Advice

While you might be tempted to flush it away quickly, examining the shape, consistency and smell of your bowel movements can tell you much about your health. Sticky poop can be a sign of steatorrhea, a condition where there’s too much fat in your stool. That in itself can be a sign of underlying illnesses like celiac disease. If you find yourself wondering why your stool is green or sticky, this article has you covered. 

Continue reading to learn more about mucus in poop, sticky poop, black poop, the meaning of poop color. The article will detail when you should be concerned enough to see a healthcare provider. 

Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

What Causes Sticky Poop?

Variations in your poop can tell you a lot about your diet and gastrointestinal health. If you notice sticky poops, there are quite a few possible explanations. Here’s what might be causing sticky poop. 


“Melena” is the term for dark, tarry poop. It usually is caused by blood in the stool. Selena is often caused by bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If you have sticky stool caused by melena, it may be a sign that you have:

Sometimes, melena can be caused by eating certain foods, including blueberries or blood sausage. It can also be caused by taking the medication Pepto-Bismol, or other medicines that contain bismuth. However, since melena can have very serious causes, it’s best to see a healthcare provider if you experience this type of sticky poop consistently.


Steatorrhea is a condition in which there’s too much fat in your poop, which can make it sticky. If you have steatorrhea, your stools will likely be light-colored, large, foul smelling, and loosely formed.

Steatorrhea is caused by other underlying health conditions, including:

Dietary Changes

Of course, your diet will play a big role in what your poop looks like. Eating lots of fat, particularly saturated fat, can lead to sticky poop. If you have celiac disease, eating foods that contain gluten can also trigger sticky stool. Keeping a food journal can help you identify what foods are linked to your sticky poop. 

What to Do About Sticky Poop at Home

If you have sticky poop occasionally, it’s likely normal and can be managed at home. 

Home Remedies

In order to fight sticky poops at home, try these remedies:

  • Stay hydrated: Getting enough water each day can keep your GI tract healthy and help you avoid constipation. 
  • Focus on fiber: Dietary fiber, found most often in fruits and vegetables, is key to keeping your digestive tract operating at a healthy pace and forming healthy stools. 
  • Avoid too much fat: Fatty foods like fried items, processed meats and lots of full-fat dairy can result in sticky poop.

Probiotics and Supplements

In addition to your diet, the probiotics and supplements that you take can impact the texture and appearance of your stools. Some supplements, including iron pills and activated charcoal, can cause sticky stool. If you’re taking these, talk with your healthcare provider about how iron or other supplements can impact bowel movements, and whether there’s any concern. 

Fiber supplements are generally safe and can help facilitate GI health. Still, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider before starting them, especially if you have any health conditions. Remember, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods is a good way to get fiber. 

Probiotics are also good for gut health because they support your microbiome—the healthy bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other organisms that help you digest food. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi can also support healthy digestion and overall gut health. 

OTC Medications

Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including Pepto-Bismol, can cause sticky poops. If you’re taking medications and notice a change in the appearance or texture of your stools, ask your healthcare provider whether it’s safe to continue using them. 

Unfortunately, there are no OTC medications specifically designed to treat sticky poop. However, there are OTC medications for constipation or diarrhea. These might help if you’re experiencing sticky poop along with other symptoms. 

How Do You Avoid Sticky Poop?

The best way to avoid sticky poop is by eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole foods. Avoiding saturated fats can also help. However, if your sticky poop is caused by an underlying health condition like Celiac disease or an ulcer, you’ll need medical treatment to address your sticky poops. 

Foods to Eat and Avoid

If you have sticky poop, eat foods that support gut health, including:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Beans
  • Yogurt and other fermented foods

At the same time, avoid foods that can undermine gut health, including:

  • Ultra-processed foods like processed, packaged snacks
  • Deli meats
  • Sweets like cake and cookies
  • Fried foods like chicken tenders or French fries
  • Foods with artificial sweeteners 

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

An occasionally sticky or hard-to-wipe poop isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, if you consistently have sticky poops, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider. Healthcare providers have a chart, called the Bristol Stool Form Scale, that they use to classify what’s healthy, and what’s not when it comes to stool shape, formation, and texture.

Although sticky poop in particular isn’t on the chart, this formation of stool has features of other types of stool that your healthcare provider can use as a guideline to discuss your health. 

If you have sticky poops along with these symptoms, it’s best to call your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Vomiting, especially if there’s blood in the vomit
  • Feelings of light-headedness
  • Pain
  • Bloating
  • Persistent discomfort

It can feel awkward to talk with a healthcare provider about your poop, but remember: that’s their job. Healthcare providers know that feces can deliver an important glimpse into your dietary and gut health, and they’ll be happy to talk about the details if it means getting to the bottom of any health concerns. 


Stick poops can be caused by eating lots of fatty foods, or taking certain over-the-counter medications or supplements, like iron pills or Pepto-Bismol. However, sticky poops can also indicate serious medical conditions, from celiac disease to ulcers, pancreatic disease and even cancer.

If you have sticky stool consistently, it’s best to speak with a healthcare provider about what might be causing these bowel movements. Your healthcare provider can help you adjust your diet and address any underlying health concerns to help you feel your best. 

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Black or tarry stools. National Library of Medicine.

  2. Azer, Samy A., and Senthilkumar Sankararaman. “Steatorrhea.” National Library of Medicine. 2023.

By Kelly Burch

Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.

Leave a Comment