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How often should you empty a urostomy bag?

10th March 2022

It is always a good idea to establish a regular routine when it comes to emptying your urostomy pouch. Emptying your urostomy pouch at regular intervals throughout the day and night, will stop it from feeling heavy or becoming obvious beneath clothing. The weight of a full pouch can also loosen the seal around the pouch, causing leaks, which is a miserable experience!

As a urostomy continuously drips urine into your pouch, it needs monitoring to check how full the pouch is becoming. Many ostomates can feel the weight of the pouch becoming full and know instinctively when it needs emptying. For others you many need to look to see how full it has become.

During the day, most people need to empty their pouch about as often as they needed to empty their bladder prior to their illness and urostomy surgery. This is usually between every 2-4 hours (or up to 8 times a day) but it varies between person to person and is very much dependent on how much fluid you drink, if you drink more then you will need to empty your pouch more often.

How often do you empty my urostomy pouch?

When a urostomy pouch becomes full, it also becomes very heavy and pulls at your abdomen which is an uncomfortable sensation. Aim to empty your pouch when it is 1/3 full, which is usually about every 2-4hours.

What types of urostomy pouches are available?

There are a wide variety of urostomy pouches available. Most urostomy pouches are available in a one piece (the pouch is attached to the base plate) or a two-piece system (the pouch is separate to the baseplate). Urostomy bags come with a tap or bung at the end to enable you to easily drain the contents. You may choose to move away from the clear bags which are provided straight after surgery and move onto a smaller opaque pouch, yet others prefer the clear pouches as you can see when the bag is filling up with urine.

Most of the urostomy pouches are made of waterproof material, so you are safe showering or bathing with them in place. They are also odour proof and have skin friendly adhesives. They are fitted with a non-return valve which stops the urine flowing back up and onto the stoma itself.

What are night drainage bags and when are they used?

During the night your urostomy will still function and produce urine, although for many people their kidneys produce less urine at night than during the day. This naturally changes as we get older though! Therefore, your urostomy bag will continue to collect urine and will need emptying during the night. To save you getting out of bed to empty your pouch every few hours overnight, many people prefer to use a night drainage bag which is simply a larger bag. This night drainage bag is attached to the drainage end/tap of your body worn stoma pouch before you go to bed and can collect up to 1-2litres of urine during the night whilst you are asleep.

The next morning you simply disconnect the night drainage bag and dispose of it. Some night drainage bags can be washed out and re-used for a few days, but most will need disposing of within 5 days to prevent the build-up of bacteria developing in the tubing, which may cause you to experience a urinary tract infection.

Check with your Stoma Care Nurse that your night drainage bag fits to the end of your urostomy pouch. Some may need a special adapter to help it all fit together. Your Stoma Care Nurse will also advise you regarding cleaning, storage and disposal of the night drainage bags.

Some people prefer to thread the tubing of the night drainage bag down the leg of their pyjama bottoms, to help it stay in place when they turn over in bed at night. Your stoma care nurse can provide you with some tips to prevent the tubing from kinking during the night. You may also find it helpful to leave some urine in your urostomy appliance before attaching the night drainage bag, this prevents a vacuum which can lead to the urine not draining freely.

Stands are available for the night drainage bags and can be obtained from your stoma delivery company. Alternatively, some people prefer to place the bag into a washing up bowel or bucket next to the bed.

How to change and empty your urostomy pouch:

  • Make sure you have everything you need at the ready, such as disposable bags, dry wipes and some warm water
  • Wash your hands before and after draining the stoma pouch
  • Drain the urostomy pouch of its contents – for most people draining straight into the loo works best
  • Find a position which is comfortable to change your pouch
  • As the urostomy will continue to dribble during the pouch change, many ostomates have found doing a few little coughs beforehand helps empty the urine
  • If needed, use some adhesive remover spray to assist you in removing the pouch
  • Hold some dry wipes or tissue underneath the pouch as you remove it, to catch any urine
  • When the pouch has been removed, check that both your skin and stoma is clean and healthy
  • Clean the peristomal skin and stoma with warm water
  • Avoid any soaps which could be drying for the skin
  • Put the used pouch in a disposable bag and dispose of into the general waste
  • Apply your fresh urostomy pouch, ensuring that the aperture (hole) is cut to the correct size to ensure your skin is protected.

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