Living with a bladder Reconstruction

You might have a new bladder made after your bladder is removed. See how this can affect you.

This page will cover:

What is it ?

After your bladder is removed, you need another way of collecting your urine. There are different ways of doing this. The most common is to have a urostomy. This means having a bag outside your body to collect your urine.

You can also have an artificial bladder made (a bladder reconstruction). Your doctor uses part of the bowel to make an internal pouch to hold your urine. The pouch opens out from your tummy (abdomen) through a stoma. This is called a continent urinary diversion.

You can learn how to pass urine by increasing your abdominal pressure. Learning this can take a few weeks or months.

Getting used to the changes in your body

It can take some time for you to come to terms with the changes in your body. But it helps to have supportive family and friends. If you find this difficult, you might need some help from other people.

You might worry about how your stoma will affect:

  • your job
  • your relationships
  • your sex life
  • sports and hobbies

With time you will probably find that there is very little that you can’t do, that you could do before your surgery. You will become more confident about living with a stoma or a bladder reconstruction.

There are other specialist  forms of surgery that may be offered to you by your specialist but it is better to have a discussion with your surgeon and specialist nurse about these if they are offered to you specifically.

You will need to learn how to look after your internal urine pouch and how to put a catheter into the stoma to drain it. Your stoma nurse will teach you how to do it.

Your job

Having an urinary internal pouch should not affect your job, unless your work involves heavy lifting.

You might find that your new bladder leaks if you are lifting something really heavy. You find out by trial and error whether any activities cause problems with leaking. Try emptying your new bladder more often if it is leaking slightly when you are not doing anything too strenuous.

Pelvic floor exercises can also help to stop your bladder leaking. Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse. They can also help you find ways to stop any leaking.

Your relationships

You will probably worry about how your altered body image with the internal urinary pouch will affect your relationships, whether with a partner or friends. You might have emotional worries about how your friends or partner may react. Or you might have practical worries about the stoma being noticeable and your new bladder leaking.

Your internal urinary pouch should not leak unless you let it get too full. It might help to empty the pouch more often. You may also need to reduce the amount you drink after a certain time in the evening.

You will probably find that your fears will disappear if you can talk openly to friends and family about your surgery and internal urinary pouch. Most people understand and are very willing to help if they can.

Your sex life

After bladder surgery you might have some physical changes that can affect your sex life.

See how bladder cancer and its treatment can affect your sex life

Sports and social life

Your internal urinary pouch shouldn’t stop you enjoying your favourite pastimes.

You can exercise and swim. You can empty your pouch before you start. Your stoma nurse can advise you about this.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t drink alcohol with an internal urinary pouch. But bear in mind that the more liquid you drink, the more urine you will pass. So you might have to get up in the night to empty your pouch.

To get a good night’s sleep it can help to avoid drinking large amounts of any liquid later on in the evening.