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Things to Know about the J-Pouch

Don’t get me wrong. I love that I have a J-Pouch. I would not be able to live the life I do, without one. What a J-Pouch is is something that you must first understand, especially if you are new following me. I had to get a J-Pouch after I had my whole colon removed from Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s. I did have an ostomy bag for a short time, and the 2nd part of the surgery allowed for the creation of a reservoir to replace my colon. It is in the shape of a “J,” which is how it got its name. I loved my surgeon and all of the staff that helped me along the way. I had to find out the “dirty” on my J-Pouch on my own.

What is a J-Pouch?

Think of it as a replacement colon. It is made from small intestine, which is connected to about an inch of your rectum. Your body has to get used to this big change and so does your brain. You will go to the bathroom a lot when you first are given a J-Pouch.

Remember, this pouch is new and starts out very small. Once it “fills up,” you will get the sensation to use the bathroom. Since it’s so small, it fills up quickly. Consequently, you will use the bathroom more than the common seven to twelve times a day as stated. I remember being in the hospital and shortly after my bowel woke up, I was running to the bathroom after the reintroduction to food. It was rough. I am not going to lie.

What is pouchitis?

Thirty percent of patients with a J-pouch get Pouchitis. Pouchitis is when bacteria from food gets into your pouch. This causes urgency, increased bowel movements, and sometimes nausea. This usually can be taken care of rather quickly with antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria.

About twenty percent of people have chronic pouchitis. This is when they always get bacteria in the pouch, and they have to be on constant antibiotics. I happen to be one of those unique people.

What is cuffitis?

Other parts around the pouch can be affected as well. The inch of the rectum that your surgeon leaves in and the reason why you can go to the bathroom naturally can get bacteria in it as well. This area of the rectum is called the “cuff.” If it becomes infected, it is called “cuffitis“. I happen to have this as well, and it is treated with constant antibiotics.

Urgency with a J-Pouch

Urgency is a real thing when you have a J-pouch. Because it is new, a lot of spasms will be felt coming from the pouch. It will feel like you have to go to the bathroom, but you don’t. This was annoying in the beginning. I remember how raw my backside would get from constant urgency. Sitting in the bathtub with hot water actually relaxes your muscles and calms the spasms down.

I will tell you, sometimes you have to try things that you do not want to do. Kegel exercises will help the pouch get stronger. It isn’t the greatest thing to do, but it does help! I remember doing 1000 of them every ten minutes in the hospital. Yes, of course, I had a glove on! But seriously, gather any and all information about J-pouches if you are leading down this route. It does change your life for the better. You just have to give it time.

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.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    6 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this! You give honest feedback which is so important to hear when making a big decision of this kind.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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