Managing your ileostomy

Learning to care for your ileostomy may seem hard at first, but with practice and time it will become second nature, just like shaving or bathing.

There’s no one way to take care of an ileostomy. This guide offers you tips and ideas that you can discuss with your doctor or ostomy nurse and adapt to your needs. Give new things a fair trial, but don’t keep doing them if they don’t make you more comfortable. Use your recovery time to learn and try different things so that you can find what works best for you.

In our society, bathroom needs are kept private. Talking about stool and bowel movements can be awkward or uncomfortable. This is often true for a person with an ileostomy. But while you learn how to deal with the changes that have been made, you may need help and advice. A good sense of humor and common sense are needed when changes in body function take place. Be confident. You can learn the new system. Before long you again will be in control.

In its original form this document was written by the United Ostomy Association, Inc. (1962-2005) and reviewed by Jan Clark, RNET, CWOCN and Peg Grover, RNET. It has since been modified and updated by:

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: December 2, 2014 Last Revised: December 2, 2014

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