While there are many clothing options for women who have an ostomy, it’s not so easy for men. Surprisingly, I haven’t found many resources which deal with men’s clothing challenges, so I’m hoping this post helps you guys out.
Depending on your weight, and whether you have any other challenges, like a peristomal hernia, you may need to modify these suggestions a bit. These tips should be applicable to other ileostomates and colostomates, but urostomates and people with a high-output stoma may need to empty their pouch more often to feel comfortable.
Before I break down some scenarios, here are a few options that we have available to us, which can help to accommodate various stoma positions. Where your stoma is located will have a big impact on how you wear clothes. I’ve reviewed several of these items HERE.
Stoma guards can be extremely useful if your stoma is at, or above your belt line. They offer protection from impact, seat belts or pant belts, and they’ll often allow you to wear your pouch inside your pants with your shirt tucked in.
Depending on the style of your stoma guard, output is usually not restricted, however, pouch capacity is usually reduced.
Another product that’s been made available is the StomaTuck. It works similar to a stoma guard but is designed specifically to help give your ostomy bag some room under your clothing.
You can find my full review for the StomaTuck HERE.
One of my favorite accessories are support bands, which allow you to wear your pouch horizontally. There are other styles available, but this article will focus on using the horizontal version of this product since it’s the most unique. I’ve reviewed the popular Stealth Belt Pro HERE.
Here’s an example of how I’d wear my support belt (with my bag sideways) under clothing:
Ostomy Support Wraps / Maternity Bands
These can range from basic maternity wraps to more specialty wraps made for ostomates. They allow for the concealment of your appliance, and offer some support, too.
Wraps designed for ostomates usually have pockets which you can fit your pouch into. This helps to keep the bottom of the pouch from hanging below the bottom of the wrap.
Typically made to hide the contents of your pouch (if you’re using a transparent pouch), these don’t offer protection from impact, and usually add a bit of bulk to your appliance, but there are many kick-ass patterns, styles, and materials available.
A more recent take on pouch covers comes in the form of a very cool product called the Ostomy Amigo.
It works like a cross between a support band and pouch cover, but also contains a special pocket for extras and looks like a fashion accessory! You can check out my full review of it HERE.
High-Waisted Pants (Trousers)/Undergarments
There are high-waisted products which are designed specifically for ostomates, but you can also find high-waisted products in most clothing stores or online. These are intended to keep your pouch below the belt line without the need for any other accessories. They sometimes offer security (if they include a “pouch pocket”), but don’t protect your stoma from impact.
Underwear designed for male ostomates are nearly always high waisted and the ones below feature a hidden pocket to help support your appliance.
Seat Belt Covers
Used when riding in a vehicle that has seatbelts, these special covers protect your stoma from the belt. These are only required if your seat belt comes directly over your stoma. If you’re using a stoma guard, a seat belt cover isn’t necessary. I’ve reviewed the Comfee Drive product by Weir Comfees HERE and I still believe it’s the best design around, but the company went under in early 2018.
Now, onto some specific examples of basic styles that most men will wear at some point in their lives. I’m a pretty simple guy, but many of these examples will apply to other clothing styles as well.
Dressing casual is one of the easiest ways to dress with an ostomy. Since casual clothing often goes with untucked shirts and loose-fitting clothes, there’s less of a need to worry about concealing or protecting your appliance.
If I’m at home, I’ll leave my pouch over my pants (trousers), and let me shirt cover it. I may wear a pouch cover if I’m using a transparent pouch since nobody appreciates seeing the contents of my pouch (although, I find it quite entertaining to see my stoma work!).
When going out, I’ll put on a wrap, and that tends to do the trick. The stealth belt will also come in handy, but it’s a matter of preference.
I don’t tend to wear stoma guards when I’m at home in casual clothes, but they work quite well for going out. They don’t offer a low profile like wraps do, so they tend to stick out a bit. The StomaShield works well with jeans.
Jeans shouldn’t be tight, and I’d highly recommend getting a pair that has some stretch to the denim, especially if you plan on putting your pouch in your pants. If you don’t like jeans or want to get even more casual, sweatpants and track pants are other options, and they tend to have elastic waists which accommodate most stoma placements.
One company called I Am Denim out of the UK has created jeans specifically for ostomates! They feature a band that’s very similar to an ostomy wrap built right into the jeans. I will have a review on these in the future!
Semi-Casual / Semi-Formal
While semi-casual can mean leaving your shirt untucked, things begin to get tricky when you want to tuck in your shirt. Because stoma placement differs from person to person, some of these tips may need to be adjusted.
For me, I can only get away with a shirt tucked in if I’m wearing a stoma guard or the Stealth Belt Pro (with my pouch horizontally). My stoma is above my belt line, so having my pouch under my belt is far too restrictive and cuts off the flow of my output. Certain stoma guards correct this problem by channeling output to flow down to the bottom of your pouch, without being cut off by your belt.
The Stealth Belt Pro works by keeping my pouch above the belt line, so clothes can be tucked in easily. This does come with one drawback: because of the horizontal placement, you need a pouch that can rotate or you need to adhere the pouch horizontally when you do an appliance change. I discuss these points in my review of the Stealth Belt Pro.
For ostomates who have their stoma below the belt line, there shouldn’t be many problems with tucking your shirt in and keeping your pouch under your pants.
An alternative to belts, which many male ostomates find useful, are suspenders. I don’t own a pair of suspenders, but I’ve seen them in action when worn with an ostomy pouch. If you go for this option, be sure that your pants waist is large enough to accommodate the pouch; too tight and you’ll defeat the purpose of using suspenders.
You can find suspenders in many department stores, stores specializing in suits, or even online.
Sweaters can work great for semi-casual dress as they tend to offer quite a bit of concealment.
Like semi-casual with a shirt tucked in, you’re going to want to apply the same methods when wearing formal clothing. That means using a stoma guard, the Stealth Belt or suspenders when necessary.
For pants (or trousers, as my friends in the UK like to call them), some ostomates might find high-waisted options or even elastic waist bands to be the most comfortable. As mentioned in the previous section, if your stoma falls below the belt line (which it should with these high-waisted pants), you won’t need any additional accessories to comfortably tuck your ostomy appliance under your pants.
Don’t be discouraged when it comes to suits! An advantage of wearing a suit is that the suit jacket also provides concealment of your appliance; if you wear a vest, it’ll come in handy too.
This is another easy one, for me at least. I either sleep in shorts or underwear with my pouch left out. You can also go naked if that’s how you like to sleep (nothing wrong with that!). In the winter, my shorts are replaced with pajama pants.
While there’s no harm in wearing a wrap or stoma guard to bed, it’s really only doable of your pouch doesn’t fill too much overnight. If you have a tendency to wake up to a very full or ballooned pouch, these accessories will be uncomfortable.
If your partner is put off by the sight of your dangling pouch, wearing a t-shirt or loose-fitting wrap should help keep things out of sight. And for Pete’s sake, don’t expose your transparent pouch to unwilling bystanders! Your partner might put up with a lot of your crap, but they don’t have to see it too!
For most men, there’s a lot of concern over whether their ostomy will negatively impact their sex life. It shouldn’t, and there are several ways of dealing with body image post-op.
I find that ostomy wraps or the Stealth Belt Pro to be the most ideal when having sex. They provide concealment and support, without restricting your range of motion. Regular maternity bands, or wraps without a pouch pocket, can cause your pouch to be exposed on the bottom of the wrap, so this style of wrap will likely be inconvenient during sex, but folding the bottom part will help (see photo below).
If you’re wearing a longer pouch, it’ll probably get in the way of things, so fold it in half before putting on the wrap. This isn’t an issue with the Stealth Belt Pro, as your pouch is horizontal and kept well out of the way.
Always empty your pouch before getting hot and heavy with your lover, so you won’t be distracted or have to empty midway through a passionate love-making session.
An alternative that some men can take advantage of are stoma caps. These are mini ostomy bags (more like stoma covers) that can be used on a temporary basis or long term depending on the type of stoma.
Unfortunately, stoma caps are not an option for everyone and I’ve detailed who it’s most appropriate for in THIS article.
While not a necessity, there are underwear that have a high waist and can act as a wrap for your pouch, keeping it low profile and more secure. These are usually suited best for men with lower stoma placements.
I’ve worn ostomy underwear by Alternative Ana and they feel quite nice. They offer really nice support and can be worn under clothing if you’re mindful of keeping the bag as empty as possible.
Regular Boxers are another option, and these can be found in a high-waisted option as well if you want to put it over your pouch. Go for loose-fitting boxers to help with pouch expansion, or tighter boxers if that’s not a concern.
Swimming / Beachwear
High-waisted swimming trunks are a great option if your goal is to hide your appliance. Just keep in mind that these will work best if your stoma has a lower placement; if it’s too high, they won’t look very flattering on you. There are specific high-waisted swimming trunks made for ostomates, which feature an inner pocket. Here’s one from Ostomysecrets.
Wraps or a Stealth Belt can also come in handy at the beach, and either will be fine getting wet (although it may take your pouch longer to dry). This option works great if your stoma is too high to wear the high-waisted trunks. Stealth Belt does offer a neoprene version, that’s meant specifically for water sports and activity. I haven’t tried that version, so I can’t comment on how quickly it dries compared to the Stealth Belt Pro.
There’s no shame in going shirtless with your ostomy, provided that you’ve got an opaque pouch or a pouch cover on it. Since the pouches are designed to be waterproof, you shouldn’t worry about getting it wet; although if you find that your wafer tends to peel when wet, you may want to use a product that’s designed to protect your wafer, like the Aqua Seal rings, or wafer extenders.
Activewear / Sportswear
If there’s a risk of impact, including amusement park rides, it’s always best to go with a hard stoma guard. Keep in mind that they may limit your range of motion, especially when squatting down, so choose one that fits comfortably, and make sure you keep your pouch as empty as possible.
For activities that don’t carry a high-risk of getting hit in the stoma, including jogging, running, hiking or golf, wraps or a Stealth Belt are great options for support and comfort. An ostomy accessory belt may also be useful if you don’t have other accessories.
If you’re doing a lot of strenuous activities, you may find that sweat creates a problem with your wafer. Use extended wear appliances or change your appliance more often if this becomes a problem. Some ostomates find that a cotton pouch cover will help to keep sweat off the skin. Alternatively, ostomy underwear with pockets should also help to keep your skin dry.
- Keeping your pouch empty will help keep you comfortable. Don’t wait until you have a balloon for a pouch! Empty it BEFORE it reaches 1/3 full.
- Don’t worry too much about whether your pouch is obvious or not; most people aren’t looking for your appliance.
- Patterned shirts will help with concealing your pouch.
- When buying pants, it’s always better to get one waist size larger if you’re planning on keeping your pouch under your clothes.
- I find that shirts are usually more comfortable and hide my pouch better when they are a size up.
- It’s always wise to keep a spare change of clothes around if you’re going for an extended outing away from home. Keep this in your vehicle, along with an ostomy travel kit.
As you can see, there are many ways in which you can dress with an ostomy. Although there are more clothing options available for women, men still have several accessories and clothing choices at our disposal. You might find yourself using different options for different occasions, and that’s perfectly fine!
You can find a directory of ostomy clothing manufacturers and suppliers on THIS page.
I gave a presentation about the “Secrets to dressing with an ostomy” which you can check out HERE.
For various ostomy accessory reviews on products that work for both men and women, check out THIS page.