Being active is important to physical and emotional health, and many people living with an ostomy lead full and very busy lives. Having an ostomy may require you to learn new ways to do things and make adjustments to some daily activities. There are ways to make living with an ostomy – from nutrition to exercise to travel -- work for you. The information below is intended to be educational to help you with the details of living with a stoma. Always confer with your physician or nurse if an issue impacts your health and well-being.
Who to Tell About your Ostomy
You should inform your healthcare providers, partner, children, and anyone else who is involved in your recovery process. You can decide how much information you would like to share with others.
Prepare for an Emergency
Prepare a pocket-bag that includes:
- A new pouch (preferably already cut to your current size)
- A disposal bag and a few wipes
- Clothespin to hold your clothes while changing the appliance
- A small packet of wet wipes (in case you have no access to water)
- A second skin wipe (if used)
It is important to be comfortable and to dress according to your own style. A stoma usually does not interfere with wearing the clothing you like. Pouching systems are predominately not noticeable under clothing especially when the pouch is emptied routinely.
Bathing and Showering
You can take a shower or a bath with or without your pouching system on. Ostomy pouching systems are designed to be safe to wear in the bath or shower.
When taking a shower or a bath with the pouch on, seal the filter with the sticker provided in the box so that the filter remains functional.
After the bath or shower, it is important to pat the pouching system dry to avoid any skin irritation under the pouching system due to humidity.
Surgery may change your physical sexual function, but even if it hasn’t, there may be psychological barriers to sexuality after surgery. It is important to talk to your healthcare providers and your partner.
Consult your physician or WOC Nurse for questions regarding pregnancy and childbirth.
Hobbies & Leisure
• Car travel: Like any driver, you must fasten your seat belt. Take extra ostomy supplies with you to ensure you have enough for your trip. Never put your ostomy supplies in the trunk or glove compartment, especially during the summer, because high temperatures may alter your products. Plan your route so you can make stops to empty your pouch, if needed.
• Air travel and going abroad: Prepare beforehand with enough supplies to last your trip. Air travel does not affect the stoma and associated ostomy supplies. Keep enough appliances in your carry-on luggage for easy access, and cut your base plates beforehand since scissors are prohibited on airplanes.
A person with an ostomy can enjoy swimming. See the same recommendations noted above under “Bathing and showering” (under Daily Living).
Exercise and Sports
You can wear your pouch inside your underwear or buy a pouch cover for when you exercise.