Ostomy infographic

Some frequently asked questions about ostomies are:

What is an ostomy?

An ostomy is an artificial opening that pulls an organ to the outside of your body to divert waste (pee or poop).   There are a number of different types of ostomies, but the main three are “Colostomy”, “Ileostomy”, and “Urostomy”.  The ostomies are named after which part of an organ is meeting the outside world. An ileostomy and colostomy divert food waste.  A urostomy diverts urine.

Depending on the reason for your ostomy, it may be temporary or permanent.

What affect will this have on my quality of life?

For most people, an ostomy does not prevent you from doing the things you love.  With an ostomy you can still go swimming, eat many tasty foods, rock climb, bicycle, run, sleep, have sex, travel, have kids, smile, laugh, dance, wear cute clothes, etc.

How do you poop?  

With an ileostomy or colostomy, your poop is diverted into your ostomy pouch. Because you are no longer using your sphincter muscles to control when your waste is released, your body empties your waste into the bag as it moves through your system and gets to the opening.  This doesn’t mean you’re constantly pooping because it takes a while for food to get from your mouth to the exit.  Poop consistency changes based on what you eat and what part of your bowel is the exit point.  The more bowel you have, the thicker/more formed your poop will tend to be.

Do you have to change your pouch system all the time?

Everyone is different, but most commonly people change their bags every 3-7 days.  Here are some tips for changing your ostomy pouch. With an ileostomy and urostomy, you do have to empty your bag multiple times a day.

Do you have to wear different clothes?

For the most part, nope.  Right after surgery, some of your tighter fitting clothes may not be so comfortable, but keep them for a least a year and then try them on again before you give up. Sometimes if your bag is full and you’re wearing tight clothes your abdomen might look a little lopsided, but there’s an easy fix for that.  Otherwise, it’s easy to hide your ostomy, wear comfy clothes, and go about your life without having to tell people it exists unless you want to.