Memorable summer vacations always seem to include water. However, swimming may sound intimidating for people with an ostomy. With some planning and extra preparation, you can begin to feel confident in the water again as you did before. Here are the top six questions to consider:
Is it safe to swim with an ostomy?
Before stepping into the pool, checking with your NSWOC nurse or doctor is always wise, especially for new patients. Otherwise, go for it if you feel well enough for some gentle water work!
Will my ostomy bag fall off?
Ostomy pouching systems can withstand bathing, movement, and friction, so many people swim with their usual supplies. Changing your pouch the night before would be ideal so the adhesive has time to set. If you decide to change brands, test the new system for a few changes before hitting the pool. For additional security, consider adding Flange Extenders and an ostomy belt. Speaking to an NSWOC or local supplier for better pouching system recommendations may also be necessary for those doing advanced water sports.
Is my pouch waterproof?
While ostomy bags can withstand water, you can also cover the filter with the stickers included with your ostomy bags to prevent water from entering.
How can I reduce my output while swimming?
For those with an ileostomy or busy colostomy, time your meals so you can swim when your stoma is less active. Avoid gas-producing foods and drink plenty of water or oral rehydration solution.
How do I care for my pouch after swimming?
Your bag may be pretty wet, but it should maintain its seal and can be patted dry as usual. If you run into any issues, bringing some extra supplies will help. Be sure to double up during your summer holidays!
Ostomy swimwear options
Women have many options, ranging from one-piece swimsuits with some rouching or ruffles around the tummy, to a retro high-waisted bikini. Men can opt to wear snug spandex/lycra shorts or a support band or belt under board shorts. These will also help hold things in place, especially for water sports. If you’re daring, just wear a fun ostomy bag cover and go for it!
A wide range of specialized ostomy swimwear and accessories are also available, which include belts, bottoms, and swimsuits, some with ostomy pockets! The following companies carry ostomy swimwear:
- Premier Ostomy (Canada): ostomycares.com
- Vanilla Blush (UK): vblush.com
- Comfizz (UK): comfizz.com
- Stealth Belt (USA): stealthbelt.com
- Glicoitaly (Italy): glicoitaly.com
- Matema Medical Customization (Netherlands): matema.com (Note: you will need to use Google translate for this website).
- CUI Wear (UK): cuiwear.com (Note: Nightingale Medical is a Canadian distributor but does not carry CUI swimwear)
Do you know of any other companies that carry ostomy swimwear? Did you find another swimsuit style or a trick that worked for your ostomy? Post in the comments. We would love to hear from you!
- Vancouver Ostomy High Life Newsletter June / August 2014
- Ostomy Clothing Manufacturers & Supplies. www.veganostomy.ca