Swimming with an Ostomy

As we enter July, hopefully we are all going to be on the receiving end of some beautiful sunny weather in British Columbia! In that case, there are tons of fun outdoor activities that can be done in the summer and while socially distancing. Swimming is one of them! Whether it be in the ocean, a lake or an outdoor pool (Vancouver just announced some of theirs are re-opening soon!), if you have an ostomy, there are some things to keep in mind to make your swimming experience as carefree and enjoyable as possible.

5 Tips for Swimming with an Ostomy

  • Ensure that wounds are fully healed before going for a swim. Check-in with your Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy and Continence (NSWOC) if you are uncertain.
  • Use a barrier strip such as the Adapt Barrier Extenders or Secuplast Hydro to protect your wafer/flange if it is not already waterproof. Sure Seal (a thin plastic cover) can be placed around the wafer for more protection. Your ostomy pouch will stay secure throughout your entire swim. You can check the adhesiveness of a product by testing it in the bath before you use it in the ocean or swimming pool.
  • Swimming is not only great for cardiovascular exercise, but also for engaging the core muscles. Consider using a Fulcionel mesh hernia belt to support the muscles during activity and help prevent a potential hernia. Discuss with your NSWOC whether a Cymed pouching system would work for you if you enjoy swimming frequently.
  • Make sure to use a filter cover if swimming while wearing a stoma pouch with a filter. The cover will ensure that no water gets into the filter. If you are using a Hollister product, a filter cover is not necessary. Ensure that you have emptied your pouch before taking a dip and to always carry extra supplies with you in case of emergency. NSWOCs generally recommend allowing 12 hours between wafer application and contact with water to allow the wafer to adhere properly so make sure to plan ahead!
  • In order to reduce the visibility of the ostomy pouch while you are swimming, you may opt for bathing suits with lots of coverage and dark colours. Bottoms with a frilly skirt, details or patterns can help disguise the pouch. Tankinis (two-piece suits with longer tops) provide coverage as well as convenience when it comes time to empty the pouch. Nightingale also carries men’s swimsuits with an internal pocket to secure the pouch and prevent it from floating around in the water.

Hopefully these tips help keep you worry-free and allow you to enjoy the summer!