When a client emailed requesting custom underwear for an ostomy, I had to google it. It turns out that ostomy surgery creates a ‘stoma’ on the stomach that attaches to an ‘ostomy bag’ or pouch outside of the body. Body waste is rerouted out of the body into the pouch. There are all sorts of reasons that people need ostomies – cancer, birth defects, inflammatory bowel disease, severe trauma to the pelvic area from accidents, etc. This means that there are about 100,000 ostomy surgeries in the USA every year.
Pretty cool that ostomies are a solution that helps save lives! Even more fun from a lingerie maker’s perspective is that there is ostomy lingerie to check out.
What is ostomy lingerie?
Not surprisingly, ostomy lingerie is designed for people who have an ostomy. Typically, the underwear has a special pocket to help support the pouch. Ostomy underwear usually have higher waists to give the bag support. Some do not have a pouch and the support comes from the strength in the stretch of the fabric of the underwear.
This is the paragraph where I remind you that I am a) not a medical professional and b) have never worn ostomy lingerie personally so cannot vouch for any of the products. Nor am I paid for any links, they are simply chosen because I found them on google. Therefore, please consult professionals on your own condition. And send in comments with any polite suggestions or corrections.
What to consider about lingerie when you have an ostomy
First – what style or size of ostomy pouch do you have? Ostomy bags come in many sizes, often with their own unique names. The most common are small or stoma caps, medium (7” with 400-500ml capacity), large (12” with 600ml capacity) and X-Large (up to 1200ml capacity).
Underwear should match your needs. You will need to look at what side of your body the stoma is on and get a pocket on that side. If you have a urostomy or an ileostomy the ostomy is usually created on the right-hand side of your abdomen, while a colostomy is usually created on the left-hand side of your abdomen. Finding commercial underwear with two pockets is a bigger challenge (try Alternative Ana Nolan’s or custom-made) if you have two stomas.
Lingerie needs will vary depending on your type and level of activity. If you are going to the gym, you may want extra strong fabric in the underwear or an ostomy belt to hold the bag in place while bouncing up and down in aerobics class. You may pick a looser fabric for comfort, if you are sitting at your desk all day with easy access to facilities to change your pouch. If you are having sex, you may opt for a small stopper or crotchless high-waist lingerie to enjoy the moment. Pick the style of lingerie to suit your day and have fun with it!
Where to find ostomy solutions
Ostomy bags are generally invisible and odor-proof. You probably would never know if you met someone who has an ostomy. Things to wear with your ostomy include covers or decorations, wraps or belts, pockets over the bag and lingerie.
DIY Ostomy Lingerie
I was super excited when the amazing sewing company Jalie issued their ostomy underwear pattern earlier this year. You can check it out here.
Also, you can order from Etsy and support small DIY or local businesses, such as UK based Stoma Lingerie Unspoken Rosebud. A search for high waisted underwear, if no pockets are needed, produces nice options including organic fabrics.
A search online shows multiple commercial solutions. A few are listed here. If you know of one missing, please add them to the comments section below.
Vanilla Blush – Glasgow, UK online and brick and mortar store
White Rose Collection – West Sussex, UK
Comfizz – UK
CUI Wear – UK
Alisa Lingerie – EU
Alternative Ana – Canada
CSP – Montreal, Canada
Shop Ostomy Supplies – Connecticut, USA
OSTOmysecrets – USA
To learn more
There are some great ostomy bloggers and influencers and websites out there. Check out a some of these: