You can swim! The main concerns of swimming with an ostomy are probably about how well your ostomy pouch will stay on in the pool or ocean, and how to hide your pouch with your bathing suit. Luckily, those are almost non-issues for most people. At a support group I attended, a man did a talk about swimming with an ostomy. He walks laps in the pool on a daily basis and then proceeds to sit in a hot tub for a short period of time. You read that right, daily pool action. Guess how often he changes his pouch? Every 3-4 days, which sounds about average from my readings. Everyone is different and your pouch may adhere to you differently from how it adheres to me, but the product manufacturers do take water into consideration when designing their products.

Tips for swimming with an ostomy!

  • For better adherence and confidence in your ostomy pouch, it’s good to wait a few hours, if not overnight, before jumping in the pool once you’ve applied a new pouch. This gives your baseplate time to bond with your skin.
  • You can use waterproof tape to reinforce your baseplate if you’re still concerned it might come off. Hytape is the tape that seems to be most common based on my interactions with people. It’s pink.
  • Wear a bathing suit that covers your pouch, if you’re worried about people asking questions. High waisted two pieces can be fashionable for girls, as can one pieces. Boxer-style swim suits can work well for guys. There are some companies that make bathing suits just for ostomates.
  • If you are worried your ostomy pouch might be visible, wear a second layer to smoothen it down, a sarong, or apouch cover to disguise it.
  • Pick a bathing suit with ruffles or patterns, it helps disguise the bump on your abdomen and can even disguise a hernia if you find the right suit.
  • Empty before you get in the pool and be aware of where you might be able to empty again, should the need arise.
  • If you irrigate, do it just prior to swimming.
  • If it’s a planned swim and you don’t want output, think about scheduling your eating around your usually output time. Most websites recommend not eating for 2-3 hours before activities if you’re trying to avoid having output.
  • Dry your baseplate as well as you can. Moisture trapped under it can lead to irritated skin, which is not fun.
  • If your skin appears irritated or is extra itchy at the time of your next change, call your ostomy nurse for advice.
  • Bring your emergency kit, just in case. Better to be prepared and not need it than the other option.

More into personal stories?  Read about my water experiences.