Every 39 minutes in the UK someone has stoma surgery

6% women experience severe childbirth injuries, But incidents are likely to be higher as “a third to a half are not detected until women later present with anal incontinence”* MASIC

Each year between 50,000 to 100,000 women worldwide are affected by obstetric fistula. Since 2006, approximately 4,000 women in Kenya suffering from VVF (Vasico-Vaginal Fistula) have undergone successful surgeries

30,000 women every year experience a traumatic birth* 

*Birth Trauma Association

One woman dies from pregnancy-related complications every minute worldwide; 95 percent of them live in Africa and Asia

Approximately 1:500 people have a stoma in the UK

Facts, Figures and FAQs

What is a stoma?

A Stoma is an opening on the abdomen where a section of the bowel is pulled through a hole approximately the size of a 50p coin – this part of the bowel which protrudes out is called the stoma. Waste (either poo or urine) comes out of the bowel/stoma and is collected in a bag which is firmly stuck to the abdomen with adhesive. This is called a stoma bag. A stoma is sometimes referred to as an ostomy. The word “stoma” comes from the Greek word “opening”.

Are there different kinds of stomas?

Yes, there are three main types of stoma – the colostomy, the ileostomy and the urostomy. The colostomy is formed when the large section of bowel is diverted onto the stomach, with all colostomies being placed on the left hand side of the body. The ileostomy is formed when the small section of the bowel is diverted onto the stomach, and they can be on either side of the abdomen. A urostomy is created by diverting the bladder.

Why do people have stomas?

It is important to be aware that everyone who has a stoma has it as a result of some form of trauma. Some are created in the aftermath of cancer (usually the bowel, but sometimes cervical and other cancers), others as a result of bowel diseases such as Crohn’s, colitis or diverticulits. The latter three diseases are extremely painful bowel inflammatory diseases, which people can suffer from for many years before a stoma is fitted. Sudden trauma, including childbirth, car accidents, twisted bowels or severe intestinal blockages, can result in stomas.

Are stomas permanent?

Not all of them. Some stomas are reversed – where the bowel in put back into the body and reconnected to the intestine. This would happen if a stoma were fitted as a temporary measure while waiting for the repair of a rectal injury, for example. Other stomas are permanent, depending on why you have got the stoma. Some people with bowel cancer have too much bowel removed to be able to go to the toilet through their rectum.

Stoma photo.jpg

Why do people with stomas need a support group?

It can be very difficult to adjust to living with a stoma, particularly if the stoma is as a result of an unexpected event. Often people can feel isolated and unable to talk to their friends, family and employers about their new ostomy. It is important that stomas are normalised so that ostomates (people with a stoma) can reach out if they are struggling. 

What is a fistula?

A fistula is an opening in the body where there shouldn't be one - for example, a hole between the rectum and the vagina, causing faeces to come out the vagina. This is called a recto-vaginal fistula (RVF) and is most commonly found after obstructed childbirth. A fistula is sometimes referred to as an abnormal connection in the body - in fact, a stoma is a fistula!

How do you get a fistula?

There are different kinds of fistula, dependant on the reason why you have it. Here are the most common ones we see:

Obstetric Fistula - a general term to describe fistulas sustained during childbirth

Recto-vaginal fistula (RVF) - hole between the rectum and vagina. This is the fistula Charity Chair, Gill Castle, sustained and is a type of obstetric fistula. 

iatrogenic fistula - as a result of an error by a medical practitioner

Traumatic fistula - as a result of an accident, for example, a car accident

Vesico-Vaginal fistula (VVF) - an abnormal connection between the bladder and the vagina. A VVF is usually an obstetric fistula

Are men able to attend the support groups?

The stoma support group is open to both men and women. 

The childbirth support group is restricted to women only, however, the Charity is more than happy to be contacted for advice on where to seek additional support for men affected by childbirth trauma. 

Where can I send my surplus stoma supplies?

Please contact us on admin@chameleonbuddies.org.uk for the address.