Understanding how to care for your ostomy will help you live comfortably with it. An ostomy nurse is a great support. The nurse will help you learn to manage your ostomy so you can get back to a normal life. This will include learning how a pouch system works and how to replace your ostomy pouch. Your nurse will also give you tips on how to treat and prevent common problems, such as irritated skin.
When you have an ostomy, urine leaves your body through the stoma instead of the urethra. Since there is no muscle around the stoma, you aren't able to control when urine passes out of your body. An odor-proof plastic pouch (ostomy pouch) surrounds the stoma to collect the urine and is held to your skin with an adhesive. Pouching systems may be one-piece or two-piece.
Both two-piece and one-piece pouches can be either drainable or closed. These systems also contain a special valve or spout that adapts either to a leg bag or to a night drain tube connected to a special drainable bag or bottle. Here's how to empty or replace your urostomy pouch:
Place toilet paper in the bowl to prevent splashing. Sit down with the pouch between your legs. The pouch is held shut with a clip system. Just unclip it and allow its contents to fall into the toilet. Clean the end of the pouch with toilet paper and reclip it.
Unsnap the pouch from the barrier and dispose of it. Do not flush it down the toilet. Putting the pouch in a ziplock bag reduces odor. You then need to attach a new pouch.
If you have a drainable pouch, you usually need to replace it every 4 to 7 days or whenever there is a leak in the pouch or itching or burning under the barrier. If you have a closed pouch, replace it when it is one-third to one-half full.
If the skin under your pouch is red, irritated, or itchy, you need to treat your skin. Follow these steps:
Ostomy accessories may include:
It takes time to adjust to having a urostomy. But with time after surgery, you will be able to work, take part in sports and physical activities, be intimate with your partner, and resume your social life. Wound, ostomy, and continence nurses (WOCNs) are available in some medical centers. They can help you learn how to care for your ostomy. Talk with your surgeon about meeting with an ostomy nurse after your surgery.
Right after your surgery, activities such as driving and lifting will be restricted to allow the stoma to heal. After 2 to 3 weeks, you should be able to do your normal activities. With your pouch in place, you can still swim, hike, camp, and play tennis. Contact sports may injure the stoma or cause the pouch to slip. But check with your doctor about how to be safe while being active, whether you play sports or do your exercise routine.
As your strength returns, you will likely be able to go back to work. The only types of work that you may not be able to perform are those that require heavy lifting or physical contact. Talk with your doctor to learn about any work limits you may need to know about.
Most people don't have to limit their diet. You can probably enjoy foods as you did before. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids each day to help reduce the chance of kidney infection.
A urostomy can affect a man's ability to have sex (usually just for a short time). Usually a woman's sexual ability isn't affected. If you are concerned about sex, your body image, and what others think, talk to your doctor, counselor, or a therapist. They can help you cope with problems concerning intimacy or your self-image.
You will probably be able to wear much of your same clothing. You'll want to avoid tight clothes that might cause problems with the drainage tube. And wearing looser pants can make it easier to conceal the pouch. Cotton knit or stretch underpants can provide support and keep the pouch secure. Your ostomy nurse will be able to help you with more clothing ideas.
You can still travel. Empty or change your ostomy pouch before you start your trip. When you travel by plane, bring extra ostomy supplies in your carry-on baggage, not your checked bags. If you travel by car, store your supplies in a cool place.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.