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A Guide to Living With a Stoma

16 January 2024

If you've recently had ostomy surgery, or are waiting to undergo the procedure, the thought of having and caring for a stoma might seem daunting. Stoma care, and living with a stoma, however, doesn't have to be stressful. Keep reading A Guide to Living With a Stoma to discover the best tools and methods for post-surgical ostomy care, find out how to care for loved ones who have undergone ostomy procedures, and ease your anxieties about living with a stoma.

What's Included?

What Is a Stoma?

What is a stoma?

A stoma is an opening in the abdomen that is created during an ostomy procedure. A stoma is a small, painless mound that allows an ostomy bag, also known as a stoma bag, to be connected to your digestive or urinary system. Once connected, this enables your body to effectively dispose of waste. Stomas can be temporary or permanent, and are used to manage complications in the bladder or bowel.

What Is a Stoma Bag?

A stoma bag, or an ostomy bag, is a bag designed to be worn over your stoma to collect any waste from the urinary and digestive tracts (i.e., urine and faeces).

Types of Stomas

Types of stomas

There are three types of stomas which can be formed, each designed to serve a distinct purpose. This includes:

  • Colostomy Stoma: connected to the large intestine, this stoma-type can be used as either a temporary or permanent treatment option
  • Ileostomy Stoma: connected to the small intestine, this stoma-type can be used as either a temporary or permanent treatment option
  • Urostomy Stoma: connected to the bladder, this stoma-type is permanent and irreversible

Tips for Changing Stoma Bags

Changing your ostomy pouch can be a daunting prospect, especially if you're new to post-ostomy care. Your healthcare provider should provide you with detailed instructions on changing your stoma bag, but if you're still nervous then check out our handy tips for successfully changing a stoma bag:

  • Wash your hands before and after changing your stoma bag to help prevent infection
  • Make sure the skin around the stoma is cleaned before you put on your new stoma bag
  • Use an adhesive or seal to ensure the bag is securely attached
  • Try gel sachets for easier management of liquid waste from colostomy and ileostomy stomas
  • Lay a towel or sheet beneath you as you change your stoma bag to catch any spillages
  • DON'T RUSH! It's better to take your time and ensure things are done properly

How to Support Someone with a Stoma

If you know someone who has a stoma bag, and you want to offer them effective support, there are plenty of ways that you can help to make their experience easier. The best way to support a friend or loved one with a stoma is to educate yourself, and become familiar with what a stoma is, how it functions, and how it can affect ostomy patients.

Other ways that you can offer support to someone you know that has a stoma include:

  • Learning about the relevant equipment for caring and changing stomas, allowing you to help when needed
  • Offer emotional support as well as practical care
  • Respect their privacy! Having a stoma can leave some people feeling embarrassed or insecure, so never pressure people into talking about or showing their stomas
  • Find and attend support groups with them

Stoma and Ostomy Care Tools

Basic Ostomy Care

Our Choice For Bag-Changes: Trio Elisse Sting-Free Skin Barrier Wipes (Pack of 30)

Trio Elisse Sting-Free Skin Barrier Wipes (Pack of 30)What Is the Purpose Of These Barrier Wipes?

The Trio Elisse Barrier Wipes are designed to clean and prepare the skin for the reapplication of ostomy bags. These wipes create a barrier on the skin to protect you from irritants, and help to minimise discomfort caused by medical adhesives around the stoma.

Key Features and Benefits

• Suitable for colostomy, urostomy, and ileostomy bags
• Silicone-based formula soothes and protects skin

Our Choice For Ostomy Pouch Sealing: Trio Genii Convex Ostomy Seals (Large 30 - 50mm) - Pack of 10

Trio Genii Convex Ostomy Seals (Large 30 - 50mm) - Pack of 10What Is the Purpose of the Ostomy Seals?

These handy ostomy seals are designed for those with stoma bags, and are ideal for those with creases or contours near the stomas. The ostomy seals are designed to stretch around the stoma and shrink to fit, helping to manage any stoma bag leaks.

Key Features and Benefits

• Flexible design offers a tailored fit over your ostomy bag
• Also available in a smaller size (20 - 35mm) 

Ostomy Swimwear

Our Choice of Ostomy Swimwear For Men: CUI Men's Ostomy Swimwear

CUI Men's Ostomy SwimwearWhat Is the Purpose of Men's Ostomy Swimwear?

Ostomy swimwear is designed to discreetly cover and support your stoma and ostomy bag while swimming. The design of these men's swimming trunks are high on the stomach, ensuring that the quick-drying material covers the relevant area.

Key Features and Benefits

• Designed with an internal mesh pocket for the stoma bag
• Available in a range of sizes from small to XXL

Our Choice of Ostomy Swimwear For Women: Comfizz Ladies' Stoma Swimming Briefs with High Waist

Comfizz Ladies' Stoma Swimming Briefs with High WaistWhat Is the Purpose of Women's Ostomy Swimwear?

These women's swimming briefs feature a high-waisted design, available in a range of sizes, that covers and supports the stoma and ostomy bag area to ensure a safe and comfortable swimming experience. The design of the briefs allows for discreet protection.

Key Features and Benefits

• Gentle compression protects and supports your stoma
• Can be worn with a matching tankini or vest top 

Stoma Support Belts

Our Choice of Stoma Support Belt: Comfizz 7" Unisex Stoma Waistband with Silicone Hem

Comfizz 7" Unisex Stoma Waistband with Silicone HemWhat Is the Purpose of the Stoma Support Belt?

This stoma support belt, available in white, black, or a neutral shade, is designed to be worn around the waist, and offers gentle support to your stoma. to providing discreet protection that allows you to remain active without worrying about your stoma bag.

Key Features and Benefits

• Offers support without putting unnecessary pressure on your stoma
• Stretchy belt is available in a range of sizes so you can find a comfortable fit 

Ostomy Underwear

Our Choice of Ostomy Underwear For Men: Comfizz Stoma Support High Waisted Boxers

Comfizz Stoma Support High Waisted BoxersWhat Is the Purpose of Ostomy Underwear For Men?

Ostomy underwear for men, like these quality high-waisted boxers, are designed to cover the area that stomas and ostomy bags are placed on. The boxers offer discreet support around the midsection that can be easily worn under your regular clothes.

Key Features and Benefits

• Provides gentle compression to help prevent gas build-up and stoma-bloat
• Available in white, black, teal, pink, and neutral shades

Our Choice of Ostomy Underwear For Women: Comfizz Stoma Support Women's High-Waisted Briefs

Comfizz Stoma Support Women's High Waisted BriefsWhat Is the Purpose of Ostomy Underwear for Women?

These simple briefs are designed with a high-waist that covers the abdominal area, working to discreetly protect and support stomas and ostomy bags. For optimal comfort, the briefs offer gentle compression that helps to prevent the development of parastomal hernias.

Key Features and Benefits

• Helps to manage stoma-bloat to ensure comfort during wear
• Available in white, black, teal, pink, and neutral shades 

Ostomy Gelling Sachets

Our Choice of Gelling Sachets: Trio Pearls Super Absorbent Gelling and Odour Control Sachets (Pack of 100)

Trio Pearls Super Absorbent Gelling and Odour Control Sachets (Pack of 100)What Is the Purpose of the Ostomy Gelling Sachets?

These fantastic gelling sachets are designed to thicken liquid stool to help prevent leakage, preserve the ostomy pouch filter, make drainage simpler, and minimising odours when changing the bag. These sachets are NOT suitable for urostomies. 

Key Features and Benefits

• Anti-sloshing properties of gel makes these suitable for use at night
• Ideal for long journeys, where you may have to wait longer to change your bag 

FAQs About Stomas and Stoma Care

What Is the Life Expectancy with a Stoma Bag?

Stoma bags, or colostomy bags, do not impact your life expectancy in any way. The underlying condition which creates the need for a stoma bag may impact your health and life expectancy, but not the stoma bag itself.

Can You Swim with a Stoma?

Yes, you can swim with a stoma. If you're worried about swimming with your stoma, you can browse our range of ostomy swimwear, which includes a range of swimming costumes designed to be comfortable for wear over your stoma and ostomy bag.

Can I Exercise with a Stoma?

Yes, you can exercise with a stoma. It is recommended that you avoid exercises that involve intense core-engagement (including sit-ups, crunches, and heavy lifting). Exercises like swimming, yoga, walking, and tai chi are ideal for stoma patients.

If you're worried about exercising with an stoma bag, try a pair of ostomy underwear, or an stoma support belt for discreet compression and support that will leave you feeling more confident.

Do Stoma Bags Smell?

Generally, well-fitting stoma bags will not smell during use. It is only when you are changing your stoma bag that you will notice any sort of smell.

Are Stomas Painful?

Stomas should be completely painless. If you are experiencing pain with your stoma, we would recommend discussing this with your healthcare provider.

Common Stoma Care Problems and Solutions

Now that you understand what a stoma is, how it functions, and the basic of ostomy bag care, it's important to learn how to recognise when something has gone wrong with your stoma. Read our guide to Common Stoma Care Problems and Solutions to discover the causes, symptoms, and solutions for issues such as:

  • Parastomal hernias
  • Stoma infections
  • Stoma bag leaking
  • Stoma blockage
  • Ostomy bag ballooning or pancaking

Whether you've got a temporary stoma or a permanent one, it's important that you care for the area properly to ensure comfort, minimise the risk of infection, and reduce the risk of developing hernias. Despite needing adequate care, a stoma doesn't have to take over your life. In fact, with the right tools and a positive mindset, your stoma shouldn't limit your day-to-day activities in the slightest.

Have a question or comment about stoma and ostomy care? Leave a comment below, or head over to our contact page and drop us a message.

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