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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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Living With an Ostomy - Topic Overview


You will probably be able to continue in your present job. The only types of work that you may not be able to perform are those requiring heavy lifting. Talk with your doctor to learn about any occupational limitations you may need to consider.


You will probably be able to wear the same clothing. Tight clothes will not hurt your stoma. If you have trouble hiding your ostomy pouch, or if it shows through your clothing, your wound, ostomy, and continence nurse may have suggestions.


You can continue to travel. Empty or change your ostomy pouch before beginning your trip. When traveling by plane, bring extra ostomy supplies in carry-on baggage, not checked baggage. If traveling by car, store your supplies in a cool place.


You will be able to have intimacy and sexual relations. An ostomy does not affect sexual function. Sexual activity, hugging, and other forms of affection will not hurt your stoma. You may want to consider getting a cover for your ostomy pouch so that waste is not visible.

Many of the problems relating to intimacy may be more emotional than physical. You may be concerned with ability, body image, and what others think. See your doctor, counselor, or a therapist for help coping with any problems concerning intimacy or your self-image.


Women with ostomies can become pregnant. But talk with your doctor about how much time is needed after surgery before becoming pregnant.

Physical activity and sports

Immediately after the ostomy, your activities will be restricted to ensure healing. Guidelines for this period include:

  • Not driving for 3 weeks from the date of surgery if you are on pain medicines after surgery.
  • Not lifting more than 10 lb (4.5 kg) for 6 weeks, which decreases the risk for hernias.

After this period you should be able to resume normal activities. Noncontact activities, such as swimming, hiking, camping, and tennis, should be no problem. If you had an exercise routine, talk to your doctor about when you can restart it and whether it is possible to participate in contact sports, such as football, karate, and basketball, which could result in injury to the stoma.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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