Whether it’s a few lengths of your local pool or a visit to the beach on holiday, going swimming is a common concern for stoma bag wearers. Having a stoma shouldn’t stop you from swimming. You might feel nervous that people will notice your pouch, or that it won’t stay secure in the water, but there are some practical steps you can take.
Did you know…
ConvaTec stoma bags are water resistant, so you don’t need to worry about water seeping in through the fabric. Most pouches have a filter in them which releases and deodorises gas. To prevent water from entering the bag through the filter, you can use a filter cover. These are small stickers that are supplied with your pouch and can be placed over the filter to create a seal.
Try to empty your pouch shortly before you enter the water. This way, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have plenty of time before you need to empty your bag again. You might also choose to pack extra stoma supplies so that you can change your pouch when you have finished swimming.
You should put on your baseplate at least an hour before you enter the water to allow it to properly adhere to your skin. You can also use a special tape to secure it, which can be applied around the edge of the baseplate.
Lots of stoma bag wearers choose to wear a special stoma cap when they do sporting activities. This is a smaller alternative to a standard pouch, and therefore doesn’t hold as much output. Stoma caps are only intended to be used for a short period of time. However, they can be worn more discreetly, which some people prefer when swimming.
If you’re intending to go for a gentle swim, you won’t need to worry too much about securing your pouch. If you are going to be diving or jumping into the water, then you can secure your bag with a tight-fitting swimsuit or high-waisted, drawstring shorts.
You might feel conscious that people will notice your bag, but don’t let this stop you from enjoying yourself. If you feel worried about your pouch being visible, there are plenty of ways to cover it up. Women can wear full swimsuits, and patterned designs are particularly good at disguising any lumps or bulges. High waisted bikini bottoms will also cover a pouch and hold it in place. For men, swimming shorts with higher waistbands can cover the pouch. If you’re planning to swim in the sea, a t-shirt or cover-up can help to keep your stoma discreet.
Did you know…
Swimwear made specifically for stoma bag wearers is also available, which usually contains a hidden, inside pocket for the pouch.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to hide your pouch. If you prefer to wear a bikini or low waisted swimming shorts, it is perfectly acceptable for your stoma products to be visible. It’s unlikely that anyone will be fazed by your stoma bag - if they notice at all! You can make sure you feel comfortable by trying on your swimsuit beforehand.
The thought of fully submerging your stoma in water can be nerve-racking. However, once you have healed from your surgery, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re worried about your bag becoming detached or leaking, you can test it out in a bath first. Swimming is a great way to stay active, and it is safe to swim with your stoma. Finding products that work well for you is key to feeling confident that your stoma will stay secure.
For more information or advice, please call our Nurse Advisor Line on 0800 085 2516 (Republic of Ireland: 1800 818 988).
For some people, adjusting to life with a stoma can be difficult to start with, but remember you are not alone. If having a stoma has negatively affected your self-confidence or your ability to on with your life in the way you used to – help is just a phone call away.
Coach and Trainer
"It was a huge shock when I needed emergency ileostomy surgery to treat life-threatening peritonitis. Even worse, the surgery didn’t go as planned, and I underwent five more operations over the next two years to treat various complications." Read more from Sarah and learn about her life with an ostomy.