Preparation and Education

Preparing for Life with a Colostomy: Education and Readiness


Having a colostomy is a significant life change, involving surgery and proper preparation. This article discusses getting ready for a colostomy, including understanding various types, preparing emotionally and physically, and how family and caregivers can offer support.

Different Types of Colostomies

There are various types of colostomies, and they can be classified based on their location on the colon and the specific reasons for the surgery. The main types include:

Descending or Sigmoid Colostomy:
  • Placed on the left side of the abdomen.
  • Typically involves the descending or sigmoid colon.
  • Output is usually semi-formed to formed stool.

Transverse Colostomy:
  • Positioned on the upper abdomen.
  • Involves the transverse colon.
  • Output may be more liquid than with a descending or sigmoid colostomy.

Loop Colostomy:
  • Usually temporary.
  • A loop of the colon is brought to the abdominal surface.
  • Allows stool to pass through one opening.

End Colostomy:
  • Can be either ascending, transverse, or descending.
  • One end of the colon is brought to the abdominal surface.
  • The other end is either removed or sewn shut.

The specific type of colostomy depends on factors such as the medical condition, the part of the colon affected, and whether the colostomy is temporary or permanent.

Preparing Emotionally and Physically

The journey to living well with a colostomy involves emotional and physical preparation. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Emotional Readiness: The transition to life with an ostomy can be emotionally challenging. Seek support from healthcare professionals, support groups, and mental health services to help you cope with anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Remember that emotional health is as important as physical health.

  • Physical Readiness: Learn the basics of ostomy care, including changing the pouch, maintaining proper hygiene, and recognizing signs of complications. Your healthcare team and enterostomal therapist will provide training and guidance.

  • Lifestyle Adjustments: Anticipate lifestyle changes. From choosing ostomy-friendly clothing to adapting your diet and planning for travel, becoming familiar with these adjustments can make the transition smoother.

Caregiver and Family Involvement

The support and involvement of caregivers and family members are invaluable on your colostomy journey. Here’s how they can contribute:

  • Understanding the Ostomy: Encourage your caregivers and family to learn about colostomies and the specific type you’ll have. Knowledge equips them to provide practical support and emotional understanding.

  • Assistance with Daily Care: Depending on your condition and comfort level, caregivers or family members may assist with changing pouches, particularly in the early stages of recovery.

  • Emotional Support: Lean on your loved ones for emotional support. Share your feelings and concerns, and involve them in discussions with your healthcare team to ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Joining Support Groups: Encourage your family to participate in support groups tailored for caregivers of ostomy patients. These groups offer guidance and shared experiences.


In conclusion, preparation and education are fundamental components of your journey to living well with a colostomy. By understanding the different ostomy types, preparing emotionally and physically, and involving your caregivers and family, you can embark on this path with confidence. Remember, you’re not alone—there is a community of support and resources available to help you every step of the way.

Ostomy Canada Society Inc. is not an organization of medical professionals. The information provided on our website is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including your physician or a Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (NSWOC), before making any decisions about your health. Every individual’s medical condition is unique, and what may be suitable for one person may not be appropriate for another.

Ostomy Canada Society Inc. does not endorse or recommend specific medical treatments, procedures, products, or opinions mentioned on the website. Reliance on any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you have questions or concerns about your health, always seek the advice of a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on information obtained from our website.

Ostomy Canada Society Inc. strives to provide accurate and up-to-date information, but we cannot guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the content. Changes in medical knowledge and practices may occur after the publication of information on our website.

By using our website, you acknowledge and agree to these terms and conditions. If you do not agree with this disclaimer, please refrain from using our website for medical decision-making purposes.