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5 Tips for Living with a J-Pouch

Last week I reached a milestone in my ulcerative colitis treatment. I can officially say that I’ve been living with a relatively happy and cooperative J-Pouch for two years. Getting here hasn’t been easy. And honestly, living with a J-Pouch is far from ideal… but thankfully, I’ve managed to have a very successful time with it.

J-pouch for ulcerative colitis treatment

I am happy with my J-Pouch overall, but I know that at any moment, I do have a chance of it failing. If it does fail, I know that I can always go back to an ostomy. Which wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. J-Pouch or ostomy, life is much better now that it was when I was living with a diseased colon.

There are a few things about my J-Pouch that have been bothersome. But over time, I’ve learned how to cope with them. Some tips, if you will, on how to live comfortably with a J-Pouch. And today, I’d like to share those with you.

Gas & gas pain

Gas pain is probably the number one complaint of all J-Pouchers. The gurgling and churning can be maddening. Not only is it so noisy it will sometimes embarrass you in public, but it can also be uncomfortable… and on the rare occasion, painful. I’ve tried anti-gas medications, but none of those have proved to be very helpful. The only way I’ve managed to relieve the gas discomfort and pain is by passing it. This sounds like a no-brainer, I know. However, what you need to know is that passing gas with a J-Pouch must be done with extreme caution. While it’s taken me almost two years to be able to do this successfully (i.e. without making a mess), I’ve only done this while lying down. I tried this when I was fresh out of my takedown surgery and it ended up being a mistake. Because of the accidents that can occur, most days I only attempt to pass gas while sitting on a toilet.

The smell of a j-pouch

The smell is a bit difficult to get used to. It doesn’t smell like your average, uh… waste. To me, the smell is stronger. Something I’ve found very useful are toilet drops or sprays. You put the product in the toilet before you go and it greatly reduces the odor. Some people swear by matches. Matches? Yes. Simply strike a match or two and blow them out. It does seem to mask the smell a great deal, so I would say it’s definitely a viable option.

Dealing with the noise

Going to the bathroom in public has always been difficult for me. For many reasons. But now it’s even worse! Unfortunately, for me anyway, going to the bathroom with a J-Pouch is extremely noisy. I have yet to find a way to mask the noise. The only thing that really helps is either a) using the courtesy flush or b) waiting for someone else to flush. Otherwise, your J-Pouch will sing the song of its people very, very loudly.


A j-pouch can be messy

When I had a diseased colon, BMs were always a very messy business. Little did I know, J-Pouches are ten times worse. I can clean the toilet and by the time my next BM is over, it looks as though I never cleaned it at all. This is very bothersome for me—especially when I’m visiting someone else’s house. Not everyone keeps a toilet brush in plain sight, so what you might consider doing is investing in one of those toilet brushes with a disposable head. It may be somewhat of a hassle, but at the end of the day, I feel it is only polite for me to clean up the mess my J-Pouch made.

Experiencing butt burn

Finally, I think another big issue that almost every J-Poucher deals with is the butt burn. This happens because of frequency and the digestive enzymes that come along with BMs. You didn’t have to worry about that much with a healthy colon, but with a J-Pouch it can be the bane of your existence if you don’t keep it under control. I actually have a few tips that I can pass along here.

The first is when you’re wiping, pat, don’t rub. This reduces irritation when you’re wiping. You might consider investing in wet wipes or a quality toilet paper. Another device you should seriously consider is the absolutely amazing bidet! A bidet is basically a contraption that squirts water on your bottom to clean you off. After you rinse your bottom, you just pat it dry with some toilet paper. The last product I would recommend is a good diaper cream. I have my favorites, but it really has to do with personal preference. Some of them are very messy, but I’m telling you, the stuff makes all the difference in the world.

So there you have it. My tips on living with a J-Pouch. Please never hesitate to contact me about what life with a J-Pouch is like. I am always reading and learning about J-Pouches and love connecting with people!

How about you? Do you have any strategies or tips for those with a j-pouch? Share in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • schumarg
    4 months ago

    I had my jpouch surgery 10 years ago due to rectal cancer. The pouch is doing well. I learned early on the BM’s were rather unannounced and very quick. Luckily I was still recovering and at home so the toilet was close.

    I’ve not had any of the symptoms mentioned. This may be due to my way of handling the j-pouch. I started giving myself an enema in the morning. Every morning. This flushed me out an lasted the whole day with no need to use the toilet.

    I have for the last 10 years started my day this way. In the beginning I checked with more than a few doctors regarding frequent enemas. Not one discouraged me. Including the surgeon would did the j-pouch.

    I find I can comfortably last two days without an enema if I don’t pig out and over eat. Three days is pushing it.

    This routine may not be for everyone but it has helped me live.


  • Pam.Kingsland moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi @schumarg! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I’m so glad you’ve found something that helps to bring you relief. Wishing you continued success 🙂 – Pam (team member)

  • Daniel
    5 months ago

    I have had a J pouch since 1986 and my procedure was done at Mayo clinic. At that time it was a fairly new procedure. I have dealt with many of the symptoms listed in this post. I have tried many things in the past and have found that Citrucel morning and night along with a imodium morning and night have helped immensely. I am now retired so any time I have a bm I always wash with warm water an pat dry with a towel. While I as working I always carried Tucks pads saturated with witch hazel. Most recently when the area is really irritated I will use Calmoseptine Ointment. I creates a great barrier to prevent irritation. It is a tad messy and it will stain underwear. I hope this can help someone as this has helped me.

  • croach
    7 months ago

    I have a bidet at home which is a Godsend. My job however is out everywhere all day everyday as a lineman so I’m not always at home to use my bidet. I found a few Preparation H wipes in a snack size zip lock bag works wonders. I also keep a pack in my work and personal truck.

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    7 months ago

    I have used those wipes before and they are certainly helpful when you are out and about. Thanks for sharing what has been helpful to you!

    I hope you are doing well these days.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • hilarious57
    1 year ago

    I’ve had many skin issues regarding the ‘butt burn’. I’ve tried every cream imaginable. I discovered the best cream is zinc oxide, it has no perfum, no additives. It can be messy but extremely helpful.

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    7 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this tip! It is so important for us to share, since we are all so different. Glad the Zinc Oxide has been helpful for you.

    Wishing you the best in health.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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