Seeking Advice: Irregular Output 10 Weeks Post-Colostomy Surgery

Dec 02, 2020 2:59 pm

Hello all. I am a 41-year-old male with rectal cancer surgery. The surgery was a huge success and I'm doing preventative chemotherapy this week for four and a half months.

I just have a question about output. I've been doing a stool softener every day, a little Miralax every day (as recommended), and my output is still very irregular. I may go two or two and a half days and then have quite a bit of output. I have a smart water bottle, so I get around 70 ounces of water a day, and I keep my fiber fairly high. I just hate going so long, as it can be somewhat uncomfortable. I did have one small blockage the other day after eating steak and didn't sleep much that night. I pushed a little around the stoma and finally got some going. Went to sleep for about an hour, and then filled my bag probably three times. So I'm definitely learning. I also have an older cousin with a stoma.

All that to say, how long did it take before your output was regular? My stoma nurse says it could take a while, but this just doesn't seem right.

Thoughts? Thank you.

NJ Bain
Dec 02, 2020 3:42 pm


I have an ileostomy so I'm not sure if my input will be helpful. But everyone is different when it comes to output timing. I do know that being a colostomate, you can irrigate and this will probably resolve some issues. I'm sure our fellow ostomates with colostomies will chime in here.


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Dec 02, 2020 4:04 pm

Greetings Josh,

I came across your profile while browsing on this site this morning. I have an ileostomy, so I'm not familiar with a colostomy.

I do know that what goes in must come out. I would be careful what you eat until you feel more comfortable with having an ostomy.

Steak is delicious, but I would hold off on eating food such as steak until your colostomy becomes more "seasoned."

I also know that with a colostomy, you will eventually be able to learn how to "irrigate" on a regular scheduled basis.

Being that I have an ileostomy, I am not able to irrigate, so what I eat usually goes through my system rather quickly.

Feel free to write back if you have any further questions or concerns.

Mike from Lakewood, Ohio

Dec 02, 2020 4:45 pm

Check out; they have a list of local support groups in your area. They probably meet on Zoom for now, but still a lot of good local resources. If they don't have a local for you, you can visit the group I'm in via Zoom.

Good luck! I will be praying for you.


Dec 02, 2020 7:22 pm

Hello Josh.

Thanks for the post, which gives us a chance to pitch in and have our say about your problems. In answer to yur main question I would say it took me about a year to be competently in control of my output (& input).

However, this was largely down to the fact that I began irrigation after about six weeks post op. If you are on  preventative chemotherapy for four and a half months, then it may be that you would not be able to embark on irrigation until that is finished and there are no more complications. Your stoma nurse or your surgeon would advise you on this aspect.

If you want to find out a lot more about irrigation, then you could look up some of the excellent videos on youtube and/or look on this site under 'collections - premium content - ostomy irrigation', which can be found at the top of the page. 

In the meantime, the most quoted advice has been to chew-chew and chew again.

In the past couple of weeks I have had to go back to using bags for output as I am on stool-softening medication and it has played havoc with my routine, plus, I cannot wear stoma plugs when the output is so watery. 

There is obviously a delicate balance to be achieved to get the right consistency of stool not to block the system but to allow free flow of output. This is all about experimentation with food, medication., timing, patience, anxiety, etc. 

If your medics are any good, they won't mind you discussing your problem and whether you could try different medications to see if there are any that work better than what you are on at present. 

I hope you manage to get control of it alll sooner ratehr than later.

Best wishes


Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Dec 02, 2020 7:24 pm

Hi Josh,

Everyone's colon is different. I was told my bowel habits should return to what they were prior to the ostomy, but that never happened. It does take several months for your colon to settle down to a new normal. With chemotherapy, you may take longer because you will be on steroids and chemo drugs, each one reacting differently in your system. I have never had a blockage from eating anything, but there are many foods that take more chewing than others. Chew your food until it is mush!

Since you do have a colostomy, you may be a candidate for irrigation. I irrigate and it has changed my life. Talk to your doctor about it. They generally like you to be 4-6 months out from surgery to start. I will be glad to answer any questions you have about it.

Hope you get a more normal routine soon. It does help with quality of life knowing what and when to expect output!


Dec 02, 2020 8:38 pm

Hi Josh, it looks like you've got a lot of good advice here, but one thing I would like to add is that not everyone is a good candidate for irrigation. It is a great option if it's possible, but everyone is different and every body responds differently. When I had my colostomy, I tried irrigation but found that it just didn't work for me. Talk to your ostomy nurse and see if you can get help trying it the first time, it's a bit tricky and there is definitely a technique to be learned. Good luck.


Dec 02, 2020 9:02 pm

Hi Josh.  I had a similar surgery and the chemo follow-up but don't remember how long it took for any regularity.  I think you've been given good advice from our folks here and you need to remember we're different.  We might have had identical procedures and reacted very differently from each other.  I don't know what your expectations are but regularity might not be attainable unless you irrigate and if you decide to go that route, please, talk to the experts like Bill, Puppyluv and Terry first.  Your system has been traumatized and it'll eventually settle in to where it's comfortable with itself.  Then, you need to get as comfortable as you can with it.  Please be patient and keep in touch with us.


Dec 03, 2020 6:44 am

Not sure why you would need to be taking a laxative, Josh??

I remember after my colorectal surgery I had to take Imodium to firm up my output.

Like you now, it was very soft.

It may be some time before you are a candidate for irrigation, but having a colostomy, you should be able to do it.

Although it can be frustrating, not to mention smelly and disgusting, once you get it mastered, you will never look back. No more bag!

Do your research, Josh, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

You will find the good folk on here more than willing to help if they can.

Keep well.