Is Colostomy Irrigation Right For You?

Colostomy irrigation may be an option for you, providing you are a good candidate and can commit the time and effort. Learn if it’s right for you.

Is Colostomy Irrigation Right for You

Get help understanding colostomy irrigation

If you have a descending or a sigmoid colostomy, there may be a way to “train” your colon to empty at a regular time each day. It’s called irrigation, and it’s something you should only do after your doctor has assessed that you are a good candidate.

Benefits of colostomy irrigation

If irrigation is right for you, it offers several advantages. People report the following benefits to colostomy irrigation:

  • Being able to wear a small stoma cap, or a low-profile one- or two-piece closed ostomy pouch
  • Fewer pouch changes
  • A sense of freedom

How colostomy irrigation works

Colostomy irrigation is similar to an enema with water being placed in your stoma. After you’ve been assessed by your healthcare team, you’ll be taught how to perform irrigation at home. Here’s how it works:

  • Allow approximately one hour for the irrigation procedure
  • At that time, you’ll place water into your stoma using special irrigation equipment
  • The equipment used in the process includes an irrigation bag, a sleeve, and a stoma cone
  • After irrigation, you’ll use either a stoma cap or a one- or two-piece closed pouch to simply cover and protect the stoma

Your ostomy care nurse can help you determine exact timing for irrigation, and how often it should be done. Daily or every other day is common.

Is colostomy irrigation right for you? Four things to consider.

Routine irrigation is done on doctor’s orders, and is not appropriate for people with a urostomy or ileostomy. If you’re interested in colostomy irrigation, it is very important that you talk with your healthcare professional or ostomy care nurse for more information.

Four things to consider:

  1. Irrigation is a time commitment – it may take up to an hour every other day
  2. You must have access to your irrigation equipment and a place to irrigate at the same time every day
  3. Perseverance is required – it can take up to 8 weeks for your bowels to become regulated
  4. You must be physically able to consistently perform the irrigation procedure

Again, check with your doctor or ostomy nurse if you want to learn more. Irrigation is not for everyone with a colostomy.