Socialising after stoma surgery

From going out on the town to staying home with friends, this is where you'll find tips on rebuilding your social life with a stoma.


Don't let stoma hold you back in your social life

It's important to socialise

Don't let your stoma hold you back – enjoy life with friends and family. It's important to socialise

It's important to socialise

Don't let your stoma keep you at home

Though most things are easier in the comfort of home, it is really important to get back to doing all the things that you were doing before your surgery. That includes going out.

Will it be awkward?

It is only natural to be concerned about having to explain yourself to new people, but remember that you do not owe them an explanation of your condition.

Have a short explanation ready

Sometimes, preparing a short and confident explanation will help put your mind at ease for the rest of the evening. For instance, you could explain that you've been unwell, and because of that you've had major surgery and now wear an ostomy pouch.

Avoid being too technical, and be open to questions - without over-sharing. Never feel you have to explain details of your surgery to everyone who asks.

What about family and friends?

Family and close friends are of course a little bit of a different matter. If you are open and honest with the people close to you, it can help you get back to the life you had before your stoma surgery. It is completely normal if for a while after the surgery you still feel uncomfortable talking about it.

However, as soon as you feel ready to talk about it, let your friends and family know - they will no doubt want to help support you as much as possible.

How to involve your partner

If you have a partner, it is good to have an open and honest discussion about how to handle new social situations. Involving your partner in how you explain your condition to others - if at all - will help both of you handle the situation more naturally.

If you disagree on the best approach, try to explain the reason why you prefer to say as you do. Understanding how you feel about it will help your partner support your decision.

Tips for going out, packing and planning

Tips for going out, packing and planning

What to think about before going out for social events or an evening with friends. Tips for going out, packing and planning

Tips for going out, packing and planning

Whether you are going for a quiet drink in a local bar, a meal out in a restaurant, or visiting friends, nothing should stop you. Stoma appliances are both secure and discreet – and even the people in your network most likely won't know that you are wearing a pouch unless you decide to tell them.

Pack an 'emergency kit'

When going out, make sure to pack an extra pouch and all the supporting products you might need. The first few times it can be good to bring one more than you will realistically need, just to put your mind at ease. It can also be helpful to bring along disposal bags for your pouch, in case you can't get to a bin.

Think ahead

When you arrive in a new location - be it a restaurant or a friend's house - try to familiarise yourself with the toilet facilities. It can take a lot of stress off your mind if you know in advance where to go when you suddenly need to.

How do you get started?

At first going out may seem daunting. So start relatively close to home, and only stay out for a shorter period, perhaps for a few hours. Then move on to things like using a public toilet for the first time or visiting a relative. It can be helpful to start with a relative or friend that already knows about your situation.

Soon, you can think about planning a day away. Before long, you might feel ready for going out, partying, even dancing.

What to do when problems occur when away from home

What to do when problems occur when away from home

How to approach problems when you are not in the comfort of your home What to do when problems occur when away from home

What to do when problems occur when away from home

Hopefully you shouldn't experience any issues with your pouch whilst away from home. If you take the time to perfect your appliance change routine at home, this should reduce the risk of any issues when you're out and about. However, unexpected situations can still occur in some instances. How should you handle those?

Problems with your stoma appliance?

If you have a problem with your product, you can call our Coloplast® Charter Advisors directly: 0800 783 1434. They have a lot of experience with dealing with a myriad of different situations, and can probably help you with some calming advice.

If leakage happens ...

If a leak does happen when in a public setting, it can feel like a disaster. But you can take some of the stress out of the situation by preparing yourself. You may be able to handle the situation discreetly with a quick trip to the toilet. If you need help though - What will you say? Knowing what to tell a waiter in a restaurant can reduce your panic greatly. Simply explain that you have had a medical crisis and need access to the toilet, and perhaps towels, disposable bags or other supplies.

There should be no need to explain details – in most cases the words "medical crisis" is enough to get the immediate assistance you need.

Have a friend on 'speed dial'

It can be extremely supportive to have a friend, or a relative, that knows about your stoma, on call in case something unexpected happens.

meet others people with a stoma

You are not alone – meet others in your situation

Here's how to find and meet other people living with a stoma – and benefit from sharing your experiences. You are not alone

You are not alone

While friends and family can be very supportive, it can be tremendously helpful to talk to someone who has actually experienced what it's like to live with a stoma. Both sharing your own learnings with others and listening to their experiences can give you a whole new perspective on life and on your stoma.

How do you find others with an ostomy?

You can try asking your healthcare professional for guidance in finding people in situations similar to yours. Often, your nurse will know of local networks or support groups.

You could also look for ostomy forums or networks online. Many have found support in some of the thriving online communities.

A good place to start could be one of the three main support groups in the UK:

  • The Ileostomy & Internal Pouch Support Group

    IA (The Ileostomy & Internal pouch Support Group) is a registered charity which specialises in supporting people living with an ileostomy or an internal pouch, their families, friends and carers.
    Established in 1956 by the surgeon who developed the ‘spouted stoma’ – a surgical technique still used today, IA works very closely with the surgical and nursing communities to provide independent support in the form of patient-focussed literature, quarterly magazine, IA’s patient visiting service -putting patient and visitor in touch – and a network of local support throughout the UK and Ireland. IA’s volunteers have themselves undergone surgery so guidance and support comes from personal experience.
    Why not get in touch with us today on 0800 0184 724, email or online at

  • Colostomy UK

    Colostomy UK is a national charity that provides support, reassurance and practical advice to anyone who has or is about to have a colostomy in the UK. We believe that everyone with a stoma should be able to live a full and active life. We are here to help and support you, your family and carers. Our 24/7 helpline offers advice and support and our volunteers, who all have a colostomy, will listen and provide reassurance. Our wide range of informative booklets, quarterly magazine and Facebook group provide support to anyone affected by stoma surgery.

  • The Urostomy Association

    The Urostomy Association provides information and support for people who have, or are about to have a urinary diversion of any kind, including urostomy, continent diversion and bladder reconstruction.  We have information leaflets available on many of the issues which will affect patients before and after surgery, along with a DVD and regular magazine. Our local Branches offer a chance to meet people in a similar situation, and our trained volunteers are available to assist on an individual level. Membership is free of charge for the first year, via our website, by post or telephone.

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