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Swimming with an ostomy

Here is some info from the great folks at UOAA that I wanted to share and encourage a dialog:


Swimming.... Back In The Pool!

Edited by B. Brewer, UOAA Update 7/2012

Swimming is an excellent exercise and activity you can enjoy with family and friends. So, why are so
many of us afraid to get back into the water? Here are some of our issues and solutions.

I’m afraid that my pouch will leak or come off while I’m in the pool. This is by far everyone‘s number
one concern. The thing to remember is that your pouching system is designed to be leak-free and water-
proof, and your wafer adhesive actually gets stronger in water. As long as your seal is strong and intact,
strap on your swim fins and jump in. Check out these tips:

1. Don‘t go swimming immediately after you have put on a new pouching system.

2. Make sure your pouch is empty.

3. Picture framing your wafer with water-proof tape isn‘t necessary, but may give you the
extra confidence you need.

4. Avoid wearing pouches with filters in the pool. Water may get into the pouch through
the filter. Filters may become ineffective after they are wet.

I’m concerned that people will be able to see my pouching system under my swimsuit. Dark colored
suits with a busy pattern will camouflage your pouch better than light colors like white or yellow, which
can become almost transparent when wet. Consider the following tips:



Men, choose a swimsuit with a higher cut waist or longer legs. Add a lycra or spandex
undergarment. Consider a tank top to cover any scars and/or a waist high stoma placement.


I’m embarrassed about changing into/out of my swimsuit in the locker room and people noticing
my ostomy pouch. If you are a little modest, try to find a spot that is out of the way or a time that it is less
crowded. Some tips follow:

1. You may wish to change and towel off in a convenient bathroom stall.

2. Put on a dry, oversized shirt as a cover-up while you change.

3. A dry suit is easier to take off than a wet one. Relax by the side of the pool with a good book or a
talkative friend before heading for the locker room.

4. Wear your swimsuit under a jogging suit/sweat pants and don‘t worry about changing at all.

What about using the hot tub or Jacuzzi? Go ahead. Again, as long as your pouch seal is good and

Women, choose a suit with a small, well-placed ruffle or skirt.

Colostomates who irrigate may wish to wear a smaller, non-drainable pouch.

your pouch is empty you should have no problems with your ostomy.

General Tips:
• Take it slow the first time out. Save those strenuous swims and dives until later.
• Always leave a little air in pouch, to permit stoma drainage to fall down into the pouch.
• When sun bathing, take a magazine or book to the beach or pool. Lay it open over your
pouch to protect your pouching system (wafer) from the heat of the sun.
• Test your pouching system. Fill the bathtub with water and soak for a few minutes.
• Don‘t talk about your ostomy surgery at the community pool. If asked, talk in private.

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21 replies. Join the discussion

Hi Randy,

Those are some great tips. Before going back swimming I asked Joanna Joy about what type of swim ware to use. She also recommeded a a printed one piece for us ladies, and I must say you cannot tell.


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I totally agree. A tip for the guys, I purchased a stealth belt not long after my surgery to give me the courage to get back in the pool and it works great both concealing my pouch and keeping things where they should be.

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I have swam with my ileostomy, made sure it was empty first, then I wore a dark t-shirt as my pouch rides above my waist. Another trick I heard, a man said he likes to wear his pouch side ways and wears a tight tube top over it. It was his way of protecting everything while being active without purchasing an expensive cover. I tried this one day but instead of the tube top, I used an ace bandage-like band with velcro that held my back tight against my body. I just tried this once on the weekend, when I didn't need to be at the office to see how it worked. I was amazed that the tight band did not interfere with the output at all. I do prefer to wear my pouch hanging down vertically though, just a personal preference and then there is the gravity LOL.

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Thanks everyone for your posts. If you want more info, go to the UOAA website and check out their forums at

As you can see by my profile pix, I am a surfer and spend a lot of time in the water. I am amazed at how tough "Victor" (my stoma) is with all the time I spend laying on my surfboard, getting tumbled around in waves and all. Here's a short video of me enjoying a nice ride at K38 near Rosarito in Baja...

Active Ostomates...NO LIMITS!

Be well,

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Oh, I forgot to add that since my pouch came off one time when I took a bad wipeout, I am no longer embarrassed about people seeing Victor or my pouch. Like they say....SH*T happens....get over it! LOL

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Randy, Loved your surffing video. I won't even take a bath (lol) cause I am afraid of leakage. So brave of you to go surffing. Does the wet suit help keep everything in place? Good for you!!

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When changing in the lockers :
At first. to get used of having people around me when changing in the lockers room - I did chose a day and time that was less crowed and I bought a short white robe ( white so I wouldn’t attract attention with a bright color) and I change into my underwear and blow dry my wafer . I had my intimacy to attend my stoma, even with my robe open I didn’t feel exposed to everyone . With time , I felt more secure and didn’t mind having people around me even if they notice my appliance when I was drying it .

Take care!

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Dear tjane,
Thank you for your kind words about my surf video. Yes, the wetsuit does keep everything in place nicely.

For all other posts, thank you for sharing your insights so honestly.

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Thanks Randy, for the good advice. You are giving us courage to 'go for it'! Love the video, thanks for sharing.

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Thanks, S-Mile....get WET today!

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love the video, thanks!!!

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I have had my Ostomy for over a year and have only stared at my pool until tonight. After finding and reading the info on this site I decided to get in the hot tub. Had a nice hour long soak and was amazed to find no issuess with my plate. Thank you all for sharing your experiences here. !!!!

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Thank you for sharing this information. We go to the beach alot, but I only wade in the water now to my knees. My only concern is not having the availability to dry off my pouch under my suit. Will it dry off as I sit in the sun or will this create problems?

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I love swimming and have not stopped swimming because of the colostomy. I just change after a good swim, and put on another dry suit. There are plenty of stalls in most pools if you want some needed privacy. Otherwise, just smile. It does wonders for everyone!!!

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Now I will try my hot tub this week for the first time since my January surgery! Thanks Randy! Linda

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I love going to the beach (as you can tell by my username), don't hesitate for a minute to go in the water. When I go swimming I use a mini pouch from Hollister and sometimes I take an immodium or two so I don't have to worry about going to the bathroom frequently. I bring extra supplies just in case, but I haven't had to do a change yet. The pouch dries fine and when I'm done swimming for the day, I put on a regular sized pouch.

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i swim and go into a hot tub- i have found that for some unexplained reason when i picture frame with micropore tape it sticks on better than waterproof adhesive tape-also as a sun lover i have found that after going into the ocean wearing a black boxer bathing suit in the sun dries out the wafer and then i wrap a small white towel around the suit so that the sun does not melt the wafer.
no one should be afraid of swimming as long as their seals are properly secured -try the micro pore tape and double picture frame for more support

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I have a hot tub and have been going in it since 4 weeks post op w/ my colostomy. I haven't had leakage issues. I just dry the wafer well after I get out. I have a beach trip planned for the coming weekend for the first time since my surgery 7 weeks ago. I really am not that worried. If I can't find a way to use a blow dryer to dry my wafer I will just change the wafer. It is a family trip to celebrate my birthday. I have to say it is a celebration indeed. I was not expected to live last January and I'm still here and well. Alot to be thankful for!

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It's great to see how many people are still "LIVING" life!!!! I have found, there is not a whole lot which I can not do, that I was doing prior to my Lil Buddy. Giving up swimming, water and the ocean was not an option to give up for me... and obviously to you all either!! : )
I feel that the ostomy gave me a second chance on life.. and I should make the most of it!

Thanks for posting your info on swimming!


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We were up at Mammoth Mtn., Ca. last winter and after the family was done skiing for the day, they used the hot tub and I did not want to miss out! I wore a tankini style suit with a wrap from Ostomysecrets, and my daughter said she could not detect a "bulge" under the suit. The suit was comfortable, and no one could see the virtual road map of scars on my tummy ....LOL! I do not wear the "classic" wrap very often because I find that the lines show underneath exercise clothes, but I do like the "illusion" wrap which is shorter and made of soft, stretchy black lace with a flesh colored pocket to hold the pouch...very cute!

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