Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions About Living with an Ostomy After Your Procedure
It is essential that you tell your healthcare providers in addition to nutritionists, physiotherapists, fitness trainers (including yoga, pilates, etc.) and any other person who is involved in your recuperative care.
You will also need to inform your medical insurance provider. The procedure may have an impact on your current plan. If you receive medical through your workplace, your employer will need to know.
It is also important to keep your employer informed so that there are no surprises in the event that post-operation complications impact attendance.
Otherwise, this is a personal decision. Outside of your family, those in your life who are curious only need to know that you had abdominal surgery and that the area is sensitive. This will protect you from mishaps from assorted hijinks (you know your friends better than we do) that can follow soon after your procedure.
For the most part, you can return to your normal life. Once you’ve been cleared by your physician, you can work and conduct yourself as you would have before. This includes travel, physical activities, fitness, and all sorts of recreation. You can even partake in contact sports, extreme sports, and weight training with the right ostomy supplies. The sky is the limit, but you can skydive too!
Yes. You can take a shower or enjoy a bath with or without your ostomy pouch system. Normal exposure to soap and water will not harm the stoma. That being said, if you choose not to wear a stoma shower cover, you should avoid excessive use of moisturizing shampoos, conditioners or soaps. The additional moisturizer may leave a film on your skin that makes your pouch less adhesive. Our only advice, is to shower or bathe when your bowels are less active. In other words, wait a few hours after dining out on Mexican.
Most likely, but not in an obtrusive way. Chances are that you can return to your dietary regime, but you will need to add vitamins and minerals to account for deficiencies common to those living with a stoma. View a list of these common nutritional deficiencies here. For your own convenience, you may want to limit intake of any food that equates excessive bowel movements, which (should) applies to everyone regardless. You may also choose to monitor your intake of less digestible or high roughage foods that increase potential for blockage.
Unless you’re looking for an excuse to buy a new wardrobe (you shopaholics out there) you can wear what you wore before, with very few exceptions. It really comes down to your comfort level. Today’s ostomy-conscious undergarments and pouches are discreet. If you’re into wearing skintight clothing and showing some lower midriff, it simply depends on your own comfort level. Even then, there are fashionable ostomy clothing lines for you to choose from.
A stoma has little to no effect over the ability to enjoy sex, regardless of preferences or lifestyle before the procedure. Some men may experience difficulty in achieving an erection during the recovery period, but all should return to normal after. Women experience no physical limitations when returning to their sex life. Once you’ve recovered, it is more of a psychological and emotional hurdle that you may need to pass over.
Intimacy is improved by maintaining hygiene and watching what you eat before a romantic rendezvous. Make sure that your ostomy pouch is drained and cleaned before heading to the bedroom. Also, be sure to avoid gassy foods beforehand. The latter should apply to everyone, regardless. As with life before your procedure, it doesn’t hurt to spice things up with a visit to the lingerie boutique, one that has ostomy intimacy in mind. For more information, go to the Sex area of our blog.
Your fertility and reproductive ability does not change after receiving an ostomy. In the rare case that a male’s sexual ability has been limited by surgery affecting the urological system and sexual nerve pathways, artificial insemination is an option, because fertility remains in tact. For more information, go to the Sex area of our blog.
As long as your passport is up to date nothing can hold you back! Just be conscious of your supplies. Bags can be lost and items misplaced on your travels. Pack an extra pouch, prescription medication, approved supplements, and necessary supplies as anyone with a medical condition or allergy concern would do before boarding a long flight and booking an extended trip.
Also, print out referral lists for physicians and medical centers at your destination. Have your doctor provide a note stating that you need to include ostomy supplies and medications in your carryon luggage so that customs personnel can assess your needs quickly.
Feces exits from ileostomies and colostomies, urine comes out of urostomies. An odor is present when you empty your pouch and change appliances. That is kept within the sanctuary of the bathroom. There should be no odor when wearing your pouch. If you do notice an odor, inspect your pouch for a leak, a poorly fitted device, a broken filter, or an unclean outlet. All concerns about odor can be abated by keeping your ostomy system clean and by using a quality line of ostomy hygiene products.
This is a case by case basis that depends on whether you have had a colostomy, urostomy or ileostomy. It will depends on how much you eat, and what you eat. If a certain food encourages bowel movements or dehydrates you you’ll know it. It’s common for someone living with an ileostomy to empty their pouch about 4-8 times in a 24 hour day. Colostomates can average once or twice a day. Urostomates empty them as often as the average person would urinate in a given day.
A few decades ago, maybe. Today, no. Thanks to improvements in ostomy pouch and supply manufacturing and design you will quickly become accustomed to wearing your system, as much as you do a belt or other day to day accessory. You won’t think twice about wearing a high quality ostomy pouch.
Absolutely. The position of your stoma may not be crossed by your seatbelt. If you find that it does, there are ostomy-conscious seat belt covers and stoma guards to keep you comfortable and safe on the road.
Yes. This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Once you’ve recovered from your procedure and have been cleared by your doctor you can return to the swimming pool, lake, or sea. Thanks to advancements in waterproof ostomy supplies you won’t have to worry about leaks or damage. Once again, the biggest hurdle is psychological and emotional. Your comfort level will dictate your success in the pool. Fashionable and functional ostomy swimwear is available to help you feel more comfortable. Read this article on how to return to the water after receiving an ostomy.
A closed ostomy bag is sealed all around the base and are meant to be used once, and then discarded.
Drainable ostomy bags are reusable. They are manufactured with an integrated clip, or are designed without a closure system, at which point you use a separate clip to seal the bag.
Each Canadian province and territory has their own program to help ostomates recoup some of their expenses. Because these programs can change, we are happy to refer you to the following program websites for each province for up to date information.