Sexual health and intimacy with an ostomy
People with an ostomy may initially find intimacy challenging, but with patience and modifications, your sex life can continue as it did before.
After ostomy surgery, depression, shame, and fear are common emotions, especially in the bedroom. Regaining a sense of intimacy requires openness, honesty, and trust with your partner.
Start off gently and with ease. Take advantage of romance and tenderness. Intimacy also means kissing, touching, making sex pleasurable.
Women sometimes wear a cami or tank that covers the midsection and ostomy bag. Pouches are made in different sizes, with smaller ones often used during intimacy.
Take a few minutes before getting intimate to empty your pouch. It will give you a little more confidence and ease your mind.
Fabric pouches made for ostomy bags help conceal and stabilize them, while also reducing chafing. Accessories like ostomy belts and belly bands further aid concealment and stability.
People with stomas have sex the same way those without stomas do. Common positions are usually possible, so stay within your level of comfort and preferences.
Never use your stoma as an entrance for intercourse under any circumstances. The stoma should never be penetrated.
Ostomates may fear pain, leakage, being naked, and rejection. The more you discuss your ostomy, feelings, and needs, the more intimate the bond between you will be.
After surgery, take time to acknowledge your body's changes and your journey. Regularly assess your emotional state and share your feelings with your partner. Give yourself time to accept and adapt to your body's new state.
Stomas don't have nerve endings, so they can't transmit pain, but they do have blood vessels that can bleed when rubbed or irritated. Try different positions to avoid issues.
Embrace open communication, self-love, and patience to navigate this new chapter. Explore comfort and confidence in your transformed body.
If you are using oral contraceptives, they may not fully absorb due to the shortened small intestine. Make sure to speak with your medical team about birth control.
One side effect of colorectal surgery may be vaginal dryness. If you're experiencing this, try a good lubricant or ask your gynecologist what could help you best.
Some women experience decreased sensitivity in their clitoris due to surgery. If part of the large intestine was removed, the clitoral nerves may be affected.
Your initial tries at sex after surgery may not bring you to orgasm. This is normal. If problems persist, talk to your care team or gynecologist.
Regain intimacy with open dialogue, patience, and understanding. Focus on feeling confident with your body, ensuring a comfortable and fulfilling experience.
After surgery, an inability to ejaculate or sustain an erection during initial intimacy is common. If problems persist, discuss it with your care team.
If you are still in active treatment, including chemotherapy or radiation, it can have an effect on sexual desires and intercourse ability.
Nerves may be damaged in surgery, and the ability to have an erection can be wholly or partially lost. Ejaculation is also dependent on the nervous system.
In the “man on top” position, lean a little toward the pouch-free side of your stomach to take pressure off of your ostomy. Try a cummerbund for ostomy stability.
Intimacy can be affected by your self-confidence. If you're worried about your pouch showing, try wearing attractive boxers to help with cover it. You can also wear a tight-fitting tank to provide support and coverage for your pouch.
My cancer and ostomy journey began with a rude awakening in January 2023. My father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 42, and given that history, I asked my doctor at my yearly physical when I should begin screening.
Every year on the first Saturday of October, people worldwide come together to celebrate World Ostomy Day, also known as Ostomy Awareness Day. This day serves as a reminder of the resilience, strength, and courage millions of individuals display each year living with an ostomy.
In this video, ostomate and certified patient and family support navigator Stephanie Rouse demonstrates how to cut and fit an ostomy wafer, or skin barrier, for a stoma.