It is normal normal to feel anxious about how stoma has changed your body and this can make you shy away from being intimate with your partner.

Meaningful and fulfilling intimate encounters can still be part of your and your partner’s lives. 

Open and honest communication with your partner lay at the heart of the healing process. Take comfort in knowing that sexual relations will not hurt your stoma—or you.

Share your anxieties with your partner, and speak about his or her concerns as well. With time and a positive attitude, you can enjoy a mutually satisfying sexual relationship.

Tips to enhance intimacy

Trust is key to true intimacy. The more you share about your ostomy, how you feel, and what you need, the stronger the bond between you and your partner.

  • It is true: “The way you see yourself influences the way others see you.” Allow yourself the time after surgery to acknowledge the changes your body has been through, check in with your emotions about how you feel post-surgery, and share your feelings with your partner. The is no timeline to feeling more confident in your “New You”, we are all different in that way. The more you speak about your emptions, acknowledge the changes, the easier it becomes to accept the changes and embrace your “New You”
  • A stoma does not have nerve endings; therefore, it does not transmit pain or other sensations, but it can bleed slightly if irritated or rubbed. Trying different positions can help you avoid any issues.
     –  The side-by-side position often works well for people living with ostomies because the pouch will fall to your side and not come between you and your partner.
  • Empty your pouch before engaging in sex.
  • If your stoma makes you uneasy during intimate moments, cover your pouch with specially designed underwear, lingerie or pouch covers. Crotchless undergarments is a great way to to keep your pouch covered during those intimate moments.

For example, women may consider wearing open panties, “teddies,” intimacy wraps, or a short slip or nightie. Men may consider wearing a wrap or cummerbund around the midsection to secure the pouch. You can buy many types of pouch covers or you can make your own.

For Women

  • If you use the pill, you may need to change your birth control—particularly if you’ve had an ileostomy. Oral contraceptives are often not absorbed with a shorter small intestine. Talk to your doctor or ostomy nurse about the best form of birth control for you.
  • After surgery, many women experience vaginal dryness. Try a lubricant, or ask your doctor about other options to treat vaginal dryness.

For Men

  • Some men may experience erectile dysfunction symptoms (i.e., achieving/sustaining an erection or inability to ejaculate) the first time they are intimate following surgery. Don’t worry or panic! This can often occur—it may be related to the surgery itself or to worries/concerns over being intimate post-surgery. If you experience continued problems maintaining an erection, contact your surgeon who can discuss alternatives to help you get over this hurdle. 

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