Experiences with irrigation system for permanent stoma?

Feb 13, 2015 3:02 pm

Hi, I am due to get my permanent stoma in two weeks (something I never thought I would feel this excited about) and have been researching irrigation. It's something that appeals to me and sounds like it would improve my quality of life. I know it's obviously something I won't be able to do for a while, but just wanted to hear other people's experiences with the system?

Past Member
Feb 13, 2015 5:54 pm

As soon as I was out of the hospital, within a week they were teaching me to irrigate. I've been doing it for 16 years now. It was difficult and frustrating at first, but keep at it, it works. I dealt with incontinence my whole life, so I desperately wanted some control. However, I also suffer from IBS, so for me, it's never 100% effective. I always wear a pouch. There are some who attain total bowel training and only wear a covering/dressing over their stoma. It's a learning curve, getting to know your body, but if you're open to it, patient, and consistent, I would highly encourage irrigation. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. Good luck with your surgery and irrigation adventures!

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Feb 13, 2015 8:07 pm

Well, it is good that you are checking it out. I have been irrigating for 15 years now, and it is a lifesaver for those who are able to do it. It will set you free. I travel a lot, eat what I want, go off-roading, go to the beach, and have no worries of having any embarrassing accidents. It really sets you free. Your body will get used to the fact that you are irrigating, and you will have some sort of control. I have my own kit I travel with and have devised my own way of doing it, and I will be happy to share any tips. Good luck, Nathan.

Feb 16, 2015 6:52 am
I agree with the above comments and I would find it hard to go back to bags. Personally I irrigate in the evenings so that any excess that may come up to an hour later will do so whilst I am still at home. I use the irrigation sleeve like a bag overnight (just in case) and I use a stoma plug during the day out of preference. These things need to be experimented with until you find your own most comfortable way to do things.Best wishesBill
Past Member
Feb 18, 2015 4:34 pm

I've had a permanent colostomy since June 2013. I have been irrigating now for almost 1 year. I irrigate every morning before I go off to work and it takes approximately one hour. I don't have any output until my next irrigation. It is definitely life changing and I am free to eat or do anything I want without a bag or bowel movements until my next irrigation. I don't have to wear a bag and only use a stoma bandage. I would recommend irrigation to anyone with a permanent colostomy and you will never regret it. It is definitely worth a try. Good luck!

Staying Hydrated with an Ostomy with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Feb 19, 2015 9:49 pm

Thanks for your replies. All very reassuring, unlike in the hospital where the staff seem to procrastinate around the subject of irrigation (possibly from lack of experience).

I'll make sure to post an update when I'm feeling better.

Mar 07, 2015 4:12 am

I'm very interested in irrigation, but my stoma nurse does not like irrigation and is very discouraging. How do I learn how and what supplies do I need?


Mar 07, 2015 9:57 am

I am curious about the reason she did not want you to irrigate. Here is a PDF file from Hollister on the procedure and supplies needed.


Mar 08, 2015 3:53 am

Thanks for your post. Now, to get started

May 11, 2015 8:28 pm

If you can irrigate, go go go for it. I wish I could. I work alongside ostomates. They are all colostomy, so I'm out of luck. Good for you, and I hope all goes well. Cheers.

May 22, 2015 12:34 pm

I started irrigating three days ago. Pretty amazing results to start with. Everything went smoothly with no cramps or pains, provided I slowed down the flow when needed and my bag stayed empty for 24 hours each time. Ecstatic with the results. I expected my body would need some time to adjust, but everything seems to be working as it should straight away. Fingers crossed it stays that way and time to invest in some smaller bags. :)

May 22, 2015 5:50 pm

If you will limit your fiber intake, you can easily double that time to 2 days. Good luck.

May 25, 2015 5:53 pm

I am kind of like you, Nathan123, in that I also got an ostomy at 24, which was a colostomy for me, but has turned out to be permanent. But unlike you, I knew nothing about ostomies beforehand and struggled with managing it for a solid year and a half before I learned about irrigation. I have been irrigating for over 6 months now and it is, in my opinion, hands down the best system! I irrigate daily, though I don't necessarily follow a "set" time due to my work schedule and busy life. Nonetheless, it lets me, 99% of the time, have an empty pouch and significantly less gas than just wearing a system and not irrigating. And even if I do have a little bit after the fact, once in a blue moon, it is never much and I find it overall gives me MUCH MORE freedom and self-confidence, especially being in sales and interacting with new people face to face, day in and day out... Even when traveling! :)

I know they say it's "important" to have a specific time to do it every day or every 2nd day, but I find that even if I have to irrigate one day in the morning and one day in the evening, overall my movements are regulated by the irrigation process *unless I eat a huge amount more one day or some foods I know cause issues like really spicy food, which is best to avoid regardless*.

My best advice to you with finding out if irrigation is right for you would be to stick with it for at least a few months after you start. With time, you should find that the 1-2 hours a day max or every other day set aside for it will not only free up time throughout the day with bag changes and/or quick bathroom breaks but will also drastically increase your confidence not having to worry about your pouch when you're out and about doing your thing.

Because in my opinion, at least for me, going about your day all day with a pouch that's filling up and or partly full, as well as your bowel always having a mind of its own, can be the most annoying and sometimes uncomfortable thing in the world, ESPECIALLY in public.

One thing to keep in mind, which at least happened for me, is that initially the results vary. I found that it also worked right off the bat for myself, but after a few weeks, it seemed to not work so well for some odd reason *no diet changes*. But I stuck with it and over time, my system was properly trained. The amount of water and frequency between days is simply all the little things you will sort out that work for you. Starting out, I was able to go 3, even 4 days between flushing with 1.5L. But now, every day or every other day with 1.5L seems to work best for me and gives me complete peace of mind.

Jun 02, 2015 11:11 pm

Irrigation is an easy process, if you have more than 2/3 of your colon, it will be a liberating experience. There are plenty of videos on YouTube or you could find another ostomy nurse. Good luck and feel free to reply with questions, and I will answer to the best of my ability.