frequently asked questions faq doctor

Frequently Asked Questions

If you can't find the answer to your questions below, why not email us at and one of our specialists will help you, or put you in touch with someone who can.

Who should I tell about my surgery?

You should tell those who need to know, such as:

  • Healthcare providers
  • People who are involved in your recovery care
  • If you are married / considering marriage, you need to tell your partner and discuss the effect of this surgery on your life (sex, children, family)
  • If you have children, answer their questions simply and truthfully
You don't have to tell everyone who asks. There's more on this subject on the Work page.

Will I be able to continue my daily activities once I recover from surgery?

When your strength returns, you can go back to life as normal. You must communicate with your healthcare professionals to help you get back to maximum health as soon as possible.

They will help you by informing you of what exercise you can deal with and things you should avoid, as some forms of physical contact may injure your stoma.

They will also tell you what will increase and decrease the lifetime of your pouch.

What about showering/bathing?

You can take a shower or bath with or without your pouch. It won't harm your stoma to have air, soap or water near the opening. You should choose a time to wash when your bowel is less active.

It's not a problem to leave your pouch on while bathing either.

What can I eat? Will I need to change my diet?

You can eat whatever you want because ostomy surgery does not affect your eating habits but must chew your food well and drink plenty of fluids.

Some foods may increase gas which you should avoid/decrease such as cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, onion, eggs, milk, melons, cantaloupe, sugar, sweets and sugary drinks. Smoking and chewing gum can also increase gases.

Will I be able to wear the same clothes?

There is only a few exceptions to clothing. You should avoid tight clothing and if you wear a belt then it must be above or under the stoma line. You should also avoid transparent clothing.

What about sex and intimacy?

There is no reason why a sexual relationship between men and women cannot continue as normal. Naturally, there may be a little awkward at first as your partner adapts to your new situation, but once you both get used to it then there should be no problems.

Will I be able to get pregnant after surgery?

Having ostomy surgery on the abdominal wall does not affect the ability for women to have children.

Ostomy surgery does not cause erectile dysfunction (ED) except for in very special cases.

Can I travel with my ostomy pouch?

Stoma surgery will not prevent you from travelling as long as you remember some important things:

  • You should carry enough appliances to last your trip.
  • Changing your daily routine may require changing your pouch more often than at home.
  • When travelling by plane, place your changing kit in your hand luggage for easy access. Also, bags in the hold can be delayed or go missing.

Should I always wear the same size of pouch?

You will start using one size while in hospital. As you begin to heal, the stoma may shrink and that would require you to change the size of the opening of you pouch.

When should I empty the bag?

It all depends on the type of bag you use:

Drainable 2 piece Colostomy Bags:

You should empty your bag daily, or as needed, when your bag is 1/3 full.

For further instructions, see our Emptying Your Pouch page.

Closed 2 piece Colostomy Bags:

You should replace your bag when it is 1/3 full. This will avoid the flange being weighed down (which will shorten the duration of time it will stay on your body) and any leakages or bag ruptures (due to abdomen pressure on bag). The barrier can remain on you for mulitple bag changes.

For further instructions, see our Emptying Your Pouch page.

How often should I change the flange?

The stickiness and durability of the pouch system differ, relating to the material itself. It is recommended that you change the flange every 2-3 days whenever it is needed.
There is also a few signs that you need to change your flange:

  • itching
  • redness
  • leaks

Changing the flange for too long, or replacing too often can damage the skin.

How do I change my Ostomy pouch and barrier?

See our full instructions about Replacing Your Pouch.

What do I do if I need to be hospitalized again?

You should take your Ostomy supplies with you, as the hospital may not have your brand in supply.

When should I see a Doctor?

See our full instructions about When Should I Call a Doctor?

Where can I find help?

You can Contact Us, our Important Links page or visit the Associations page which will help you get started.