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Can Colostomy Patients Swim With an Ostomy Bag On?

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I love swimming but avoided it when I had a colostomy. But I soon found ways to enjoy my favourite pastime without a care in the world.

Swimming With a Colostomy Bag

Colostomy patients who love to swim often wonder if they can swim with a colostomy bag on. As an ostomate who lived with a stoma for a year, I soon learned that colostomy patients can do everything that people without a bag can do. In fact, a great number of patients can accomplish even more than many people without a stoma!

How to swim with a colostomy bag

How to swim with a colostomy bag

The only limitations (if there are any) are the limitations that you set for yourself. In other words, try as much as possible not to limit yourself to certain activities that may have been a part of your lifestyle before your surgical procedure.

Swimming is a great way to keep fit and maintain good energy levels, and even if you are not an ardent swimmer, swimming is good for us and even with a colostomy, nothing must stop you. Whether you swim in a pool or at the beach, or simply want to relax in an outdoor Jacuzzi, as long as you use some securing ostomy product, and wear a swimsuit that fits firmly around your abdomen, you can swim with a colostomy bag.

Some may worry about discretion. If you are, there are special mini colostomy bags you can buy to use for such an event. They are very discrete and ideal for swimmers with a stoma, so, there is no reason to worry about how best to conceal your colostomy bag.

There are also trendy waist-high bikinis with an internal pouch that runs from the left side to the right. They are made to support and hold in place colostomy pouches, whether for swimming, sunbathing, or for water sports.

They are easy to use. All you have to do is to attach your bag to your stoma at an angle and tuck it inside the swimwear internal pouch so that the opening is bent in the direction between the legs.

The benefit of the internal pouch is that it keeps the ostomy bag away from the skin thus reducing any sweating that can cause odor. It is also good because it reduces visits to the bathroom as it firmly holds the stoma bag contents, stopping it from bulging out in an unsightly manner.

How to Go Swimming With Your Colostomy Bag

You don’t really require any special wear or appliance before you can engage in any water activity if you are a colostomy patient. There are just a few things to have in mind when you decide to take a swim or lounge in a hot tub. Some feel more comfortable using a colostomy belt, I know that I did, but I didn’t use it more than a few times. Because I had built up my confidence over the weeks, I was able to wear my regular swimsuit that came with an internal pouch.

  • You don't really need a colostomy belt to hold and protect the bag, because belts get wet and may make you feel irritated.
  • Wear modern colostomy bags with adhesive face plates and inner linings. They are waterproof and so, will not soak in water.
  • To make the bag a bit more discreet, attach it to your stoma at an angle or horizontally. When placed vertically it may make the bag 'hang' if there is a substantial amount of feces expelled into it whilst swimming. When placed horizontally, the swimsuit spandex will help add extra hold to the colostomy bag and keep it firmly in place.
  • Male colostomy patients that intend to swim can wear more fitted swimming trunks underneath the boxer-type swim trunks. The snug-fitting trunks will hold the waterproof colostomy bag firmly in place, making it discreet.
  • Female swimmers wearing colostomy bags look great in swimsuits with skirted bottoms. They are very attractive vintage-inspired pieces, just as the swimwear of old, with ruches.
  • Swimwear with heavy patterning or detailing is always good to conceal an ostomy bag as the heavy pattern takes the eye away from any noticeable bulge that may occur as a result of bag ballooning.
  • Swimming suits with a panel detail across the abdomen offer additional support for the stoma pouch.
  • Tying a sarong while walking on the beach or pier is a chic lady-like style. It is a good way of concealing a colostomy bag if you wear the larger-sized one.
  • Women can swim in pretty boxer-type swim shorts, with a halter or sleeveless top. Wearing swimming bottoms made of Lycra material under the shorts will hold the stoma bag firmly in position.

It is advisable not to stay in the water for more than thirty to forty-five minutes. A prolonged stay in water is not the best for the colostomy bag face-plates which may begin to swell if you spend a much longer time in the pool. Being in the water for too long makes the edges of the waxy faceplate) absorb water. If the plate is exposed to water long enough, the wax will start to soften and turn into putty-textured stuff.

When this happens, the faceplate will start to loosen and will come off eventually giving room for feces leakages and a foul odor.

After a swim, pat your bag dry. It will be damp but not wet. Alternatively, you can slip one of the trendy ostomy pouches covers over it. They come in a terry-cloth or towel-like material and dry up the dampness immediately.

Ostomy Accessories for Swimming . . .

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Read More From Youmemindbody

Be Stylish on the Beach, Even With a Colostomy

Having a stoma bag on shouldn't keep colostomy patients from having a great time swimming, nor does it stop them from having fun at the beach. There was once a fashionable young lady who was a colostomy patient. She visited nude beaches with her stoma bag, wearing it discreetly covered with a beautiful purse belt. No one ever suspected or knew she had a fecal waste bag attached to her abdomen.

There are some online stores for ostomates that have a fine collection of swimwear specially designed for people with ostomies.

The best colostomy bags that are wonderful for swimming are the ones that have double-lined front panels that give the wearer a smooth outline around the abdomen. They also have an inner pouch that keeps colostomy bags firmly tucked away from the skin, giving you not only extra comfort but, tons of self-confidence too.

Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 Alobeda

Your Comments and Views

Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on July 22, 2017:

Hello Danyelle,

You can try White Rose Collection and OstomySecrets. They have nice bathing suits for women with a colostomy. You can Google both to get to their sites.

I hope this helps, and i wish your daughter all the very best :)

Danyelle Boswell from Idaho on July 22, 2017:

Hi. Thank goodness someone gave more info about swimming with a bag on. My daughter got one last year after finaly being diagnosed with hirschprung disease. It will be permanent since she was diagnosed late and is special needs besides. The care needed for after a pull through wouldn't be a great idea on her part. She's already scared of so much. I didn't know there were special pouches within swimsuits for the bags. I was in a support group but it didn't help with my questions regarding swimming. I hadn't thought about turning the bag horizontally. This helps tremendously. My daughter would like to have a bathing suit. Is there a good site for the bathing suits with pouches?

Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on October 23, 2014:

You are welcome Lynda

I'm glad you found it useful.

Lynda Hall on October 22, 2014:

Love the video on using pattern duct tape to design your colostomy bag ! Thanks very much !

Alobeda (author) from The Global Village on September 02, 2014:

Thanks for the visit Chris Grubbs


Chris Grubbs on August 03, 2014:

That is a sweet idea!

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