A stoma is an opening on the front of your abdomen from undergoing ostomy procedures.
A stoma bag is a bag that covers the opening and collects your number ones or number twos. It surrounds the stoma and is adhesively attached to the patient’s skin.
While stoma bags are not new in the medical device scene, there’s still a lot of stigma and misconception surrounding the usage of stoma bags.
We asked our ET nurses from our Wound and Enterostomal Services Team to shed some light on some misconceptions revolving around stoma bags.
Myth #1: Stomas are visibly obvious
For most people, the initial perception of a stoma bag means having a bulky bag underneath your shirt that is noticeable to everyone.
Contrary to this understanding, modern stoma bags are not bulky at all. They are discrete and slim enough, up to a point where someone won’t even notice the stoma bag without having prior knowledge of the stoma.
Myth #2: Stoma bags give off a smell
The thought of stoma bags giving off unpleasant odours is one of the most common misconceptions.
While stoma bags were known to smell bad in the past, stoma bags have benefitted from advances in technology.
Modern-day stoma bags are made of materials and have filter systems that make them odourless. Adding up to the fact that the bag is almost unnoticeable visually, being fragrance-free can help bring a sense of calmness to ostomates.
Myth #3: Cannot exercise properly with stomas
Having the misconception of not being able to exercise with a stoma bag makes sense. While this may be true for the first few weeks after surgery, patients with stoma bags are encouraged to continue exercising on road to recovery.
Though it may seem like it will limit your movement, with proper knowledge, having a stoma bag should not be the end of your fitness journey.
Myth #4: Swimming is not an option
In relation to the previous point, patients can continue exercising with a stoma bag, including swimming.
This misconception more often than not comes from the fear of the bag coming loose while swimming.
With a modern stoma bag and proper technique of attaching the stoma bag, patients can swim in the pool or the sea without the bag coming off and harming their stoma.
Myth #5: Stoma is a barrier to physical intimacy
Similar to other activities, it is necessary for patients to avoid physical exertion in the early weeks post surgery. However, once the wound is healed, a stoma bag should not be a barrier to physical intimacy.
This misconception is more related to self esteem and body confidence issues rather than physical interference of the bag.
It is important for the patient to be open and communicate their needs with their partner.
Myth #6: Having a stoma requires a complete change in diet
Although your digestive system goes through major changes from stoma surgery, it doesn’t mean a change in diet is necessary.
Of course, following the first few weeks after surgery, there are certain restrictions on food that patients have to follow. But once the wound from the surgery has healed, a normal diet can be resumed.
Whatever your worries are about your stoma bag, chances are there is a solution or an alternative.
Book an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists if you have any other questions regarding stomas or stoma bags. With our experienced doctors, we will help you attain the best quality of life with your stoma bag.