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How often should you empty a urostomy bag?

There is no golden rule for emptying your urostomy bag, but establishing a regular routine is always a good idea. During the day, most people need to empty their bag 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 bag more often.

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

Emptying your urostomy bag at regular intervals throughout the day and night, will stop it from feeling heavy or becoming obvious beneath clothing. The weight of a full bag can also loosen the seal around the bag, causing leaks, which is a miserable experience!

Here are some tips to help guide you with how often you should empty a urostomy bag.

When to empty your urostomy bag:

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

Types of bags:

There are a wide variety of urostomy bags available. Most urostomy bags are available in a one piece (the bag is attached to the base plate) or a two-piece system (the bag 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 want to move away from the clear bags which are provided straight after surgery and move onto a smaller opaque bag, yet others prefer the clear bags as you can see when the bag is filling up with urine.

Most of the urostomy bags 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.

Night drainage bags:

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 tp collect urine and will need emptying during the night. To save you getting out of bed to empty your bag 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 bag before you go to bed and can collect up to 1-2litres of urine during the night when 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 bag. 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 bag:

  • Make sure you have everything you need at the ready, such as disposable bags and dry wipes and some warm water
  • Wash your hands before and after draining the stoma bag
  • Drain the urostomy bag of its contents
  • Find a position which is comfortable to change your bag
  • As the urostomy will continue to dribble during the bag change, many people have advised to do a few little coughs beforehand as this helps empty the urine
  • If needed, use some adhesive remover spray to assist you in removing the bag
  • Hold some dry wipes or tissue underneath the bag as you remove it, to catch any urine
  • When the bag 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 bag in a disposable bag and dispose of into the general waste
  • Apply your fresh urostomy bag, ensuring that the aperture (hole) is cut to the correct size to ensure your skin is protected.


Order your FREE urostomy bag samples…

Using the right stoma bag can make life as an ostomate a lot easier. We offer a free sample service allowing you to order up to 3 products to try. Why not try the below urostomy products?


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