Living with a Stoma.

Road to Recovery.

The recovery time after under going a colostomy will be approxiamtly 3 months. When returnng home after surgery ,you may feel very emotional, and lack confidence when socialising, this is perfectly normal.

The bowel will take time to settle down after surgery, therefore the abdomen will propbably be very tender to touch, which can make tasks such as changing your bad quite difficult and uncomfortable. Due to this it may be advised that home arrangements may need to be altered in order for you to settle into a new routine, for example setting aside more time to get ready in the morning.

In the early days after surgery  avoid over exerting yourself. Take one step at a time, and gradually build up your  strength again. Remember you can live a full active life with a stoma, so don't let it become a disability!


Food is normally digested before it reaches the colon, therefore it is not neccessary for you to change your diet. In order for your body to recive all the essesntial nutrients it needs to function, youshould  choose a diet which inclueds a variety of food from all the different food groups.

1. Protein - Meat and Fish. Lower fat alternatives when possible.
2. Carbohydrates - Bread, potatoes, cerals. Choose high fibre kinds when possible
3. Fat -  small quanities
4. Vitamins and Minerals - Fruit and Vegetables.
5. Milk and Diary. - Low fat alternatives when possible.

Some people with colostomies may be able to eat everything, however some have discovered they have to avoid certain foods. If you suspect any food problems, keep a food diary, and try the supsected food on 3 different occassions seperated by an interval of at least a week. If the problem occurs on each ocassion, you can remove it from you diet.

Just remember it may not be what you eat!!

1. Wind - Can be caused by eating to quickly, eating at irregular times, and may be because you havent eaten in a while. Foods that cause wind are foods that are high in fibre, or contain grains or seeds, beer, fizzy drinks.

2. Diarrhoea - Could be the result of a stomach bug, antibiotics or could be down to stress. Spicey food, beer, pure fruit juice and vegetable may cause episodes of diarrhoea in some people.

3. Constipation - Not drinking enough, not enough exercise, or could be down to vertain medication such as painkillers. Drink plenty of fluid if this occurs.



Exercise is important as it improves circulation, fitness and can even aid the healing process. There is no reason why you cannot return to your normal exercise routine, as it can be effective in strengthing the muscles which support your stoma.  Most people who have undergone colostomies will continue to indulge in sports such as  cycling, walking, swimming, pilates etc. It is however best to avoid any physical contact sports, as this could cause complications with the stoma.  If you have any concerns about which  exercises to undertake, do not hessitate to contact your G.P  or assigned stoma nurse.

Social Life

Undergoing a colostomy operation will not affect your social life unless you let it. So my advice is to get out, meet friends and family, and have some fun.



There is no reason as to why you cannot return to work once you have fully recovered from surgery, or when your G.P thinks you are fit enough to return, and if there is no other medical implications. However if your job involved heavy lifting or works that puts strain on the abdominal  muscles then they may not be suitable, therefore make sure you seek advice from your local G.P or stoma nurse.
It may be advised for you to wear some support around your abdomin in the early stages of returning to work.


Having a stoma will not prevent you from travelling at home or abroad. However you do need to plan ahead and prepare yourself more than usual.

Here are some things to think about when travelling:
1. Make sure you have all the supplies you need, as some products may not be available abroad. It may be advised to have extra supplies to cover emergencies such as delay's when travelling, or upset tummies.
2. Make sure some supplies are inyour hand luggage.
3. Carry a travel certificate  which explains your condition and why you need to carry the supplies. This can be obatined from your GP.
4. Try to wear a drainable bag as this avoids expereincing problems of disposing of a bag.
5. Try to wear loose fitting clothes.
6. Before travellling avoid fizzy drinks and spicey food.
7. Drink only bottled water when in foreign countries.
8. Store bags of supplies in a cool place, and out of direct sunlight.

Sex Life

In most cases people with a stoma will enjoy a healthy active sex life, as the surgeon will try to avoid causing any damage to the sexual organs, however in some cases pleasurable sexual contact may  be inhibited due to possible nerve damage to the sexual organs. Males may find it hard to maintain an erection, and for females the vagina may be scarred and narrowed. This damage may or may not be permanent.

If any problems do occur, please do not hessitate to get in contact with your stoma nurse.