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I have a fistula that attaches from my outer skin to my rectum and it drains stool throughout the day. My doctor does not seem too concerned, because it is not causing me too much pain. He even decided to take me off of the antibiotics to see if the fistula would be ok. He actually said it may be one of those annoying things I may have to deal with. I am lucky that I do not have many problems with it after reading all the other stories about fistulas, however it is getting very hot in Ontario and I would love to go swimming, but with stool draining I don't. Has anyone been in this situation and could they give me some advice on whether they went swimming and how they handled the drainage. I am going on holidays on Fri and would love to swim in the ocean, but not sure if I will be able to.


Staff member
New York, USA
first - I would NOT be happy with a doctor who told me I had to deal with that!....There ARE ways to heal it - what meds are you currently on?.....

As far as swimming - you could try something like tegaderm (if you can get to the fistula to cover it).....make sure you get a good seal and maybe tape the edges.....will try to think of any other ideas - right now it is LUNCH TIME and I'm outta here!
Oh this is exactly why I love this forum. I have the exact same fistula and my specialist seems unconcerned by it! It's scary though.
Has anyone else had one? Do they heal? Why would they occur?
I hates them.


Hi Brenda. Sorry to hear about your troubles. I wish I could better answer your question, but I wanted to respond and encourage you to fully understand from your doctor the particulars of your fistula, what your treatment options are, what's involved with each of them, and why this course of (non)action is best for you in your case. There's nothing wrong with asking this IMO, in fact, I would say it's important to know. I'd ask your doctor about swimming too. I would guess you'd have two potential problems, one is drainage, and the other I can anticipate is that you might find saltwater or chlorine quite uncomfortable?

Does your doctor have you taking sitz baths currently? You might be able to try some different options, lso you feel comfortable with your solution when you go?
I would not put up with that. How can they tell you to resign yourself to leak stool?! If I had a fistula that leaked like that and for sure would never heal, I would rather have a colostomy. At least you can hide a colostomy under a swim suit.

What meds are you on? I had a similar fistula except it drained fluid and not stool. I went on remicade and it closed in 4 days after the first infusion.
i had 3 fistulas down there that leaked stool tried everything finally had a colostomy bag for year and a half until the fistulas closed and had it reversed with no problems yet thats what i would recommend
I have two fistulas, and one that drained quite a bit. I dealt with it for many years after a doctor told me that surgery was risky and to more or less be glad it wasn't worse.

About two years ago I started the journey to try to get rid of them - first with oral drugs, then with Remicade and now with Cimzia (after developing a slight allergic reaction to Remicade). My doctor is trying to combine the biologic treatment with surgery, after I was referred to a great surgeon. I'm in the middle of a few procedures but hopeful.

As for dealing with the draining, I was able to swim with the drainage and some gauze to absorb everything. However, now that I have had a fistulectomy and have a seton placed, I was concerned about swimming again this summer (as I have to plug the wound with gauze several times a day. Last weekend's time at the pool was a success...and I hope you have the same luck!
I use to have a vigina/rectal fistula. God now that was awful! There is no way of taping up your vagina. I had to have emergency surgery for a different issue. I wound up getting a colostomy. That was a long time ago. 16 years? I never had a fistula again after the colostomy. The biggest fear of having my colostomy removed is the fact that I might have to deal with fistulas again. As much as I do not like my colostomy...I must say it is 100% easier to deal with this than a fistula.
I am sorry, I am not able to answer the swimsuit question. Good luck with everything. I know exactly how you feel. Peace
Help me please :) 2 years ago I had an anal abcess about a 1/2 inch above my anus. I noticed it on a Sunday and the dr cut and drained it on a Monday . Everything has been great these past 2 years, until I got a flare up of piles :( I went to the dr and he noticed that abcess scar was open . Now neither me nor the dr knew if it had always remained open, because I never make it a habit to to look in at butt crack and nothing has hurt for it to be checked . He asked if it was itchy or if I felt wet or noticed any drainage, and nope I didn't have any of that . A couple weeks ago the hole seemed to be closed . Now after having piles they left me with some pretty nasty skin tags that makes cleaning after bm not easy . I noticed last week the hole is again open, told my dr and she gave me some bactrum without looking . I'm not sure now if I leakage coming from that hole but here's what happens . I got potty and clean myself and 30 mins later I'll have to do it again almost like I never cleaned in the first place. I do use miralax everyday and I know it can cause bowel leakage . So I'm not sure if the hole is draning or the leakage is getting back there . The hole doesn't itch, there is no pain, I don't see anything coming from it, once I'm fully clean I can put a tissue to it and it shows no signs of drain even first thing in the morning, nothing is red or swollen either. Could this be a fistula ?
Hey Brenda. You might have mentioned this already, but I don't have time to read all the responses. How long have you had the fistula? Did it start as an abscess? It sounds kinda jerky of your doc to dismiss it as something you would have to deal with :S

As for swimming: You can always buy plastic diapers :p More realistically, the cold water in a pool will constrict the fistula, and any blood drainage. So, a cool swim would keep it a little cleaner. Chlorine will help as well. If you're worried, wear some gauze in your bathing suit: it should stay up against your butt from the pressure of the bathing suit, and would filter any funny colored things.

Good luck :D