Pros and Cons of Disposable Colostomy Bags

Updated on December 23, 2017
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Adjusting to a colostomy is tough. For me, it was like a horrible dream. But with a positive mindset, I soon adjusted to my new life.

Now that you have a temporary or permanently rerouted solid-waste disposal system, you’ll need to find the right colostomy supplies that work best for you.

There is no doubt that you will go through quite a few bag systems before you find the right fit, and that can be quite challenging, in the beginning. For many colostomy patients, within a few weeks, they’ll find what works great for their kind of lifestyle, but for a few others, it may take months to finally be happy with one.

Closed Disposable Colostomy Bag
Closed Disposable Colostomy Bag

All colostomy bags are waterproof and leakproof, and they will not absorb or let in outside moisture, which allows patients to bathe, shower, or even swim with one on.

There are basically two types of ostomy pouches — disposable and drainable.

The disposable ones are disposed of when they are about three-quarters full, while the drainable bags can be emptied and kept on for a whole day without the need for a change.

However, this article is about the advantages and disadvantages of the closed disposable bag.


Life has never been better for colostomy patients, especially for those who are always on the go. The disposable bags which come in small, midi (medium) and large sizes are a popular choice for some patients.

Disposal is easy because your ostomy supplies come with disposal bags, some lightly scented. Once you place your used bag in one and ensure it is tied securely, you can drop it in the same toilet bin used for sanitary wear disposal.

However, there are other advantages of using closed pouches and include the following:

  • Great if you have a party or special event to attend. You need not worry about having to empty a drainable bag in the toilet of an event place or restaurant.
  • The mini size (small pouch) fits snugly into a woman's purse or a man's inner pocket. Remember, you must always have a couple of spare ones whenever you go out partying or to a restaurant.
  • Emptying a drainable bag emits quite a volume of odour. With disposable colostomy pouches, once you take it off and replace with a new one, odour doesn't linger.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night, feeling sleepy or groggy, you need not fiddle with emptying a filled bag. Just take off the used one and pop on another in a couple of minutes.
  • If you want an uninterrupted night's slumber, the large size bags works best
  • If you are travelling by road with your family in the family car, for instance, you can have a quick change if need be. Yes, the other occupants - your spouse and/or kids will have to bear with a little whiff of odour, but then, they'll understand. All they need do is wind down the windows for a few minutes.
  • The same applies when you travel by rail or by air. Removal and disposal are quick and easy once you've mastered changing your bag. And you will in no time, trust me. The large sized bags are best if you have to travel for hours.
  • Disposable bags are best to use for babies and very young children.
  • Closed ostomy bags are very convenient when you need to change your bag in a public restroom or at a friend's house.
  • There is no chance of leakages or odours emitting from the closed ostomy pouch because it is completely sealed.

All-in-all, it all boils down to your personal preference and lifestyle and whether the positive aspects of a closed ostomy pouch outweighs the negative for you. And though I personally prefer the drainable types, I still found that there were many instances when I had no choice but to use a closed pouch. I find they worked best for me because I am a socially active individual. I found Coloplast's Assura 1-Piece Closed Pouch (Precut Convex) worked best for me.


Just as the use of closed pouches has many advantages, it also has a few disadvantages.

  • It is expensive using closed colostomy bags because they are not reusable like the type you can empty. The problem lies in the fact that you can only use it once. That means you will go through more pouches and spend more money on them.
  • While a drainable pouch can be reused for a few days before it would have to be thrown away, you may need to use as many as 4 or 5 bags per day, sometimes more, depending on your diet. If you eat a lot especially, you'll need to change your bags often during the course of the day.
  • You need to change the bag when it's half-full, unlike the ones you can empty which you can use until it is three-quarters full.
  • They tend to fill up with flatulence quickly and it is almost impossible to quickly expel the gas, unlike with the drainable ostomy bags.
  • Closed bags are best used by people who have less waste discharge. This makes them difficult to use for ileostomies or urostomies because their output is almost constant. and more fluid.

As mentioned earlier in this article, it's all a matter of what works best for you. However, you will find that despite the disadvantages of using closed pouches, there will be times when you'll have no choice but to use them.

Tips for Changing Your Pouch

  1. Always check your bag regularly, in case it's filling up without your being aware. For instance, if you are at a party, pop into the toilet now and then to ensure all is well.
  2. Never (if you can help it) allow your disposable bag to fill more than halfway through. At times, the faecal discharge has a way of creeping slowly into the bag without your knowledge.
  3. If you can, let there be a routine for changing your ostomy bag. After a few weeks, when can manage the situation better, try to establish a simple changing routine.
  4. As you get used to your condition, you will discover that your stoma is more active at certain times of the day than others.
  5. During, or immediately after a meal, your stoma will become very active with faeces literally 'spewing' out so you may find you need to change your disposable colostomy bag shortly after your meal.
  6. It is better to change the bags when the stoma is relatively inactive.
  7. Ensure your stoma is cleaned gently but thoroughly during each change.

The soiled colostomy bags must not be flushed down the toilet for obvious reasons of drain blockage.

© 2010 Alobeda


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    • profile image 2 years ago

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