Your doctor may order a stool test to help diagnose a variety of gastrointestinal issues ranging from viral, bacterial and parasitic infections to absorption disorders, bowel disease and cancer. Typically, the patient is provided with a container to collect a stool sample and asked to bring it back to the physician’s office, where it can be sent to a lab for microscopic and chemical analysis. Patients who are experiencing unexplained symptoms such as excessive gas, chronic and/or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and others may have this testing done. Another scenario in which such testing may be needed is when the physician suspects the presence of a malabsorption syndrome, where an insufficient amount of certain nutrients is being absorbed by the intestines. Be aware that any medications you are taking can impact the results of a stool test, and ask your doctor if you are uncertain about which ones to avoid prior to providing a stool sample.