Between 725,000 and 1 million Americans live with an ostomy. An ostomy is a surgical procedure that creates a new pathway to pass body waste. The pathway ends with an opening in the abdomen called a stoma, which is where an ostomy pouch attaches to collect waste externally.
In certain cases, an ostomy can help in treating chronic diseases such as IBD (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis). Ostomy surgery may be necessary in cases where one’s bladder or colon must be removed due to cancer or a traumatic injury.
If you’re preparing for ostomy surgery, it’s normal to have some concerns. However, a lot of the common fears and myths about living with an ostomy can be easily cleared up.
Five Common Misconceptions about Ostomies
1. “Everyone will know I have an ostomy.”
Actually, people around you might never know you have an ileostomy, urostomy, or colostomy. Thanks to constant ostomy product innovation, ostomy pouch designs are becoming more discreet and low-profile. Many people living with an ostomy want to keep that part of their life private. With that in mind, many ostomy supply manufacturers create ostomy pouches that can be kept hidden under clothing.
In fact, you can even go swimming or participate in sports while keeping your ostomy a secret. Ostomysecrets offers plenty of ostomy clothing options and accessories including ostomy wraps, underwear, and swimwear to keep your pouch discreet.
2. “I’m going to smell bad.”
Fortunately, living with an ostomy doesn’t have to mean constantly worrying that other people can smell your ostomy. Not only have ostomy pouches advanced in their ability to be hidden, but their design has also evolved to better keep odors at bay. For example, many colostomy bags feature charcoal filters that slowly release gas while deodorizing.
The only time a modern ostomy pouch should produce an odor is when they are changed or emptied. Talk to one of our friendly Ostomy Specialists at 180 Medical to find a product that may work best for your preferences and needs, including odor-reducing ostomy product options.
3. “Intimacy is off the table forever now.”
Sexual intimacy after ostomy surgery is perfectly normal and enjoyed by many ostomates. First, make sure you’re fully healed post-surgery. Check in with your physician to get the okay before engaging in any physical activity.
After that, it’s possible you may go through some psychological hurdles before feeling comfortable during intimacy. This is completely normal and natural. It may just take time.
If you’re in a relationship, talk out your feelings and find a routine that works well for both of you.
Also, you have options for keeping your ostomy more discreet. For example, you could use a wrap to conceal your ostomy. Another option would be a small ostomy pouch like a stoma cap. These are temporary, but they may feel less bulky or in the way during intimacy.
4. “I’ll have to go on a strict diet.”
After you’ve healed from your ostomy surgery, you may have no restrictions on your diet. Other than certain foods that may be harder to consume or digest, you will likely be able to eat the same diet as before, including your favorite foods.
5. “It will be hard to clean my stoma.”
Keeping your stoma and surrounding peristomal skin clean is vital to the continued health of your ostomy. However, it’s not actually that difficult or expensive to clean. A washcloth and warm water are typically the only tools needed for the job.
Now that we’ve cleared up some of the common myths about living with an ostomy, you may have questions about what ostomy products will best fit your needs.
Our Ostomy Specialists at 180 Medical look forward to helping you adjust to your new life as an ostomate by providing you with our renowned compassionate service along with high-quality ostomy supplies online.