Swimming is an enjoyable and effective way to maintain your physical fitness. This low-impact exercise can benefit your overall health and can be continued throughout your life, even with a stoma. However, many individuals may think that swimming with an ostomy poses different obstacles. The apprehension of stoma leakage and concerns about potential reactions from others are some of the primary challenges that need to be addressed.
If you have an ostomy, there is no need to avoid swimming altogether. There are various tips and tricks that can aid you in feeling comfortable while swimming, whether it’s in a backyard pool or a beach. If you have an ostomy bag and want to go swimming, it’s natural to feel hesitant. But don’t let that hold you back! Here are some practical tips to help you build your confidence and enjoy the water despite having an ostomy.
Tips to Follow When Swimming with an Ostomy Bag
You can go swimming even if you have a stoma bag. Since stoma bags are waterproof, there’s no need for a specific bag for swimming. Here are some essential tips for ostomates who want to get back into the pool.
Use Comfortable Swimwear
One of the most critical aspects of getting back into the pool is finding swimwear that you feel comfortable wearing. Your swimwear plays a significant role in your confidence level when swimming. If you’re comfortable in your swimwear, you’ll be more self-assured getting into the water. Wearing brightly colored or patterned swimwear can make you feel more confident as it helps to mask any outlines of your stoma bag.
Determine if it Requires a Filter Cover
Prior to swimming, it is essential to verify whether your stoma bag requires a filter cover. If it does, these circular stickers are typically included in the box of bags that you receive.
A filter cover is an essential accessory for those with ostomy bags who enjoy swimming. These small, circular stickers are designed to fit over the filter at the top of the bag. They create a barrier that prevents water from entering the bag while you’re in the pool or other bodies of water.
Empty Your Stoma Bag
It’s crucial to empty your stoma bag before swimming to avoid any unwanted incidents. Additionally, it’s recommended that your wafer has been securely attached for at least an hour before getting into the water. If you’re concerned about output, it’s advisable to have your meal a few hours before diving in to allow your digestive system ample time to process the food.
Don’t Put a Skin Wafer After Getting Out of Water
It’s essential not to apply a new wafer or skin protector right before swimming. It’s crucial to give your appliance sufficient time to adhere entirely to your skin. Putting on a new wafer or skin protector immediately before swimming can compromise the seal, leading to leakage, which can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. It is generally recommended to wait at least an hour after putting on a new wafer or skin protector before getting into the water. This waiting period is crucial to make sure that your stoma bag stays in place and functions correctly while you swim.
Wafer Extenders, Seals, or Strips are Not Required
Although wafer extenders, strips, or seal rings work well for some individuals, they are not necessarily required. Some ostomates have found that using waterproof medical tape on the edges of their wafer or skin protector helps to secure the appliance during swimming. However, it is important to be cautious and avoid any skin irritation that may be caused by the tape. It’s essential to try different techniques that can help you manage your initial anxiety and find a method that works best for you.
Ensure Your Stoma Bag is Secure
Before heading to the pool, it’s critical to verify that your stoma bag seal is secure. Ensuring that your seal is tight and well-fitting can help prevent leaks and give you greater peace of mind while swimming. A loose or ill-fitting seal can lead to discomfort and potential leakage, which can be both embarrassing and inconvenient. To avoid this, make sure to check that your seal is secure and correctly in place before getting in the water. It’s also advisable to bring extra supplies with you, such as a backup stoma bag, in case of any unexpected issues.
Utilize Disabled Changing Rooms
One helpful suggestion for ostomates who enjoy swimming is to utilize accessible changing rooms after your time in the water. These changing rooms are often equipped with hand dryers or hair dryers that you can use to dry your stoma bag for a few minutes, allowing it to remain securely in place if there is no output.
If you need to change your bag, simply perform the same steps as you would at home, and dispose of the used bag in one of the nappy bins provided in the changing rooms. It’s crucial to bring additional supplies with you in case you find yourself in a location where they are not readily available. By being prepared and taking advantage of accessible facilities, you can make the most of your swimming experience while maintaining your stoma hygiene.
Test Your Ostomate Bag First
It is essential for ostomates to take a test run before heading to the swimming pool. This is because every person’s experience with an ostomy is unique, and it may take some time to discover what works best for you. Different ostomates have different experiences when it comes to swimming. While some may report no issues even after several hours in the water, others may face challenges.
It is important to test the water before taking the plunge and to familiarize yourself with how your stoma bag behaves in the water. By doing so, you can make adjustments and prepare for any challenges that may arise while swimming. Finding the right swimming routine that works for you and your stoma may require some patience.
Swimming with a Stoma Bag Shouldn’t be a Challenge
So can you go swimming with an ostomy bag? Of course. Swimming with an ostomy may seem challenging, but it can be a great way to stay active and enjoy the water. It’s normal to feel self-conscious or worried about your bag while in public, but it’s important to remember that many people with ostomies successfully swim without any problems. Don’t let fear hold you back from enjoying the benefits of swimming. Be proud of yourself for overcoming any obstacles and focus on having a good time.