Swimming with an Ostomy: Bag recommendations and gym cover suggestions?

Past Member
May 03, 2012 6:28 pm

I am going to finally get released in a couple of months back to the gym. I had a permanent ostomy in March and many complications, but I am so ready to go back to my life again.

Question: If you have experience in swimming, what do you use? Your regular bag or do you know of any bags made for swimming?

Question: Has anyone who runs or works out used anything at the gym to cover the pouch because of the heavy sweating? I wondered if anyone has used a cover so the plastic doesn't get wet when I am sweating.

Let me know if anyone has experience with these two things.


May 04, 2012 1:25 am

Hi ejbetty. I replied a minute ago, sneezed and when I looked back at my iPad, my reply was off in cyberspace wayyyyyyyy farrrrrrrrr awayyyyyyyyyyy!
Swimming...I have always just worn a control top panty or a light panty girdle underneath my swimsuit. I have never had any 'disconnect' problems and I've been an ostomate for 41 years! For exercising, I do the same but use baby powder underneath the pouch so when it contacts the skin, it is dry. There have been times when I've also folded up a tissue or the like and placed it between the pouch and skin and still use the powder. If I am doing heavy exercising, I omit the powder and just keep the folded bandana between pouch and skin with the control top panties to hold all in place. Hope some of these suggestions work for you.

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May 04, 2012 9:02 am

I don't change or alter anything when I go swimming except pull my trunks up to cover the bag. When I say swimming, it's more of a controlled 'not drowning' exercise.

Past Member
May 04, 2012 9:25 am

Hi ejbetty, I use my normal bag when I go swimming, but I did buy swimwear from the White Rose collection that has a pocket for your bag. I don't know about the sweating, never had any problems that way. Hope this helps.

May 04, 2012 7:13 pm
Hi Betty,

When I swim, I use a regular bag. I don't really do that as my main exercise though. I go to a gym where I do cardio kickboxing, yoga classes, Zumba, etc. I wear all my old, very tight workout clothes like Danskin, Adidas, etc. What I added was to take some of my husband's old T-shirts...size Large, and I cut out the neck hole and the arms off and wear that over my workout clothes. My bag tends to balloon when I work out, and I am self-conscious that someone would notice this large bulge on half my belly. Maybe they wouldn't, but the additional coverage makes me feel much better. The look is a little old school "Footloose," but it is very important to me to work out. I don't really notice any problem with sweating and the bag. No more so than taking a shower and having it get wet. Which I go do after I work out anyway.

Good luck!!

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Past Member
May 04, 2012 8:55 pm

This is all good. Thanks for the help. I am so ready!


Past Member
May 04, 2012 8:58 pm

Thanks for all the information. Great suggestions. I appreciate your help. It's nice to know that you have been doing this for so long so your experience can really help me.


Past Member
May 04, 2012 9:00 pm
Hi Braveheart!

Thanks for the swimwear idea. I am going to order a swimsuit from them.

May 04, 2012 9:12 pm

I don't really have much to add to the swimming question other than depending on what type of pouch you use, you could frame the flange with waterproof tape.

With regards to sweat, I tear off the fabric that comes on my pouches and work out with just the plastic. It's easier to clean and dry that way. What I typically do when running or cycling is fold the pouch up and secure the tail in the waistband of my running or cycling shorts. Doing this leaves very little of the pouch touching my skin.

One thing about daily training is that I do go through pouches faster than most. I usually have to change every 2-3 days in the winter and 1-2 days in the summer when it's hotter and I sweat more.

I also use convex pouches with one of the elastic belts, which I think helps keep the bag from floating during workouts where I sweat excessively, such as spin classes.


May 05, 2012 2:22 am

The only advice I can offer is to go for a nice swim and enjoy yourself. It is advisable to be sure your bag is empty before you jump in and wait until your stoma is quiet. I have tackled heavy surf and very warm waters with never a problem. You may want to forget about body surfing for fear of rough landings; but, otherwise, don't worry about your appliance becoming detached.

May 07, 2012 1:10 pm

Hi Betty, I recommend one of the two-piece tankinis. Easier to empty when you have to. A print usually works better than a solid at hiding the pouch. I don't use a different pouch as something smaller may fill up quickly. I am in and out of the water all summer. I usually try to empty my pouch before going in and switch into a dry suit after I get out of the water if I am at a house; if not, I just try to dry off a bit. Regarding exercise and sweat, I guess it would depend on how heavy your workout. I've heard of people who participate in marathons or triathlons picture framing around the faceplate with pink waterproof tape, but have never done this myself while hiking.

Past Member
May 07, 2012 1:50 pm

I never use anything other than my normal bags and belt.

When swimming, I figure that since I have an urostomy, if the urine can't get out, then water isn't going to get in. As far as covering up the bag, I've had mine for 46 years and could care less what anyone else sees. When I was very young and learning to swim, I had a leg bag, and didn't care then, so why should I now?

As for exercising, I've played just about every sport and have only had a handful of incidents. Mostly due to how long the bag had been on prior to playing.

In any case, the best advice has already been offered. Just empty the pouch prior to any activity.

May 07, 2012 2:40 pm

I highly recommend SURE SEAL (trademark) RINGS; they provide that extra bit of assurance against any possibility of leaks. I am now changing the wafer and pouch every seven days!

May 07, 2012 3:40 pm

I only go swimming occasionally and when I do, I just use my normal bag under a one-piece swimming costume. I always go straight home after swimming and change my bag then as I tend to find that the chemicals in the water make the plate of the bag hard and uncomfortable when it dries.

I did try using a tankini-type swimming costume but found that the top part tended to rise up while swimming, which made me feel quite self-conscious. I ended up buying a swimming costume from ASDA which had a ruched effect down both sides, which hides the bag well and helps with my confidence. I had problems with specialist suppliers as they either had styles which looked like something a ninety-year-old would wear or they didn't go down to my size - being a size 6-8 is a huge problem for all specialist clothing!

Good luck
May 07, 2012 4:21 pm

While we're on the topic of water....I'm having trouble with showering and desperately want to find a solution.

If I shower with nothing, then stool falls in the shower. Not willing to deal with this. If I shower with the appliance on, then it becomes unstable and susceptible to blowouts.

I've tried taping plastic bags but it doesn't seem to stick and everything gets wet. I've seen the shower skirt advertised but that really doesn't help. I want to be able to clean the genital area.

I've resorted to only showering right before I change the wafer and sponge bathing in between. I hate this! I feel gross!

Please, does anyone have a solution for showering with the appliance and bag on?

Daisy Mae
May 07, 2012 4:49 pm

Shelly, I am in the same situation as you are about showering and would appreciate others' advice.

Funny, though, I just got back from Florida and I was able to swim with my usual bag and a smaller mini-bag from Hollister. I just changed the bag more frequently after it got wet and made sure I emptied it in advance. I also was close to my condo rental and had a coverup handy, just in case of an "incident" (didn't have any). I wouldn't and I don't want to be doing that in my usual routine as too many changes cause havoc to the skin surrounding the stoma.

May 07, 2012 5:26 pm
Hi Shelly, I don't know why you are not willing to allow stool to fall in the shower, so I'm going to assume you find it too gross. However, feelings can easily change when the thought process that leads to those feelings changes.

Here are a few things to think about that may change the feelings you have concerning stool falling in the shower:

1) What's the difference between stool falling on the water on the porcelain of a toilet before it enters the sewage pipes, and stool falling on the water on the porcelain of a shower before it enters the sewage pipes?

2) You've been carrying this stool around inside you where it's touching many of the molecules of your body, so why does it matter if it touches the molecules of your shower?

3) By showering with an appliance on, you force some of the stool to stay in contact with your stoma and any exposed skin around the stoma instead of letting it be washed away and down the drain.

4) Giving the skin around the stoma a chance to be washed and exposed to air reduces the risk of having problems with that skin.

This photo illustrates how easily a misperception can lead to an unnecessarily unpleasant feeling:

May 07, 2012 5:28 pm

For swimming, they have made some very good ostomy belts out of neoprene. These belts look ultra modern and they come custom made to fit you. They also have one for exercise. I can't remember the name of the site, but if you do a Google search of ostomy belts, it is one of the first sites to come up.

May 07, 2012 5:31 pm

This is actually for Shelly, since there seems to be enough swimming answers and I would end up sounding like a broken record haha.


For showering, I end up doing that every other day at times to keep the appliance longer. It works out well and what my surgeon and ostomy nurse told me over a decade ago was to use my blow dryer to help the drying process and will also re-adhere the appliance to your skin after you towel dry. The only time I've had issues after the shower is right about the time it would need to be changed anyway. I'm sorry you're having to deal with the issues, but hopefully these answers will help.

What type of paste do you use? Or do you use any at all? That would be something else to think about. I've learned that the paste I use also matters it seems when showering and moving around a lot, etc... Something to think about.

Hope this helps! Good luck gals!

May 07, 2012 7:49 pm

I tend to do what you do when it comes to showering. In regards to the paste, I've only used paste after surgeries when I needed to fill in uneven skin and I hated it. The ostomy nurse used it under my wafer once after my first surgery and I hated it more. I found it really painful to come off.

How does it affect showering?

May 08, 2012 5:41 am

I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week. If you were active and fit before your operation, then it's not hard to get back into it at all. I have had 4 total surgeries, and after each successive one, I was able to resume my workout routine sooner. Mostly because, first of all, I wasn't sick and anemic like I was before my first surgery. Then, second, each follow-up surgery, I knew it was going to happen well in advance, so it allowed me to prepare for it both mentally and physically, cutting my stay in the hospital down from a week or so to just 2 or 3 days max.

As for swimming, I don't swim as much as I'd like to, mainly because the only pool I have access to is the one at my parents' retirement park - not exactly the coolest place to hang out LOL (they have an awesome spa, so I won't hesitate to hang with the old folk there) - and even though I live 20 minutes from the beach, I've never been an ocean/beach person.

The most common fear and problem people have with swimming is obviously keeping your appliance on secure. The first few years after my surgery, getting my appliance tape wet in the shower or pool pretty much ended any long-term wear time. But the quality of the tape on barriers has greatly improved over the past 12 to 15 years, and now I get a consistent 7 days' wear time - with showers or swimming not affecting the wear time at all - unless :p I'm somewhere where it's excessively humid and my pores sweat, then that cuts the time down several days.

May 08, 2012 1:25 pm

Hello! Try using Ostomysecrets Classic Wrap for exercise. This has great support and has inside pockets where you can insert the bag. It really helps, even for daily wear. I've been using this for 1 year and it has boosted my self-esteem greatly. For swimming, I use Ostomysecrets Swim Wrap. It's also great. Just log in to their website. Take care!

Past Member
May 09, 2012 1:17 am

I have to agree about the OstomySecrets swim wrap. I use it all summer long and love it with my tankini.

Hollister has products that are more durable for swimming as opposed to everyday wear.

Have not had a problem with leaks etc.

Wishing you the best.