Why Your Sex Life Matters More When You Have A Stoma

Sex is a big part of any relationship, it’s what breaks down the difference of love and friendship. It’s what creates an intimate bond between two people, cancelling out the question of just being great friends. Although a relationship generally causes the pair of you to become best friends, without sex there is no beyond, it is almost as if the pair of you just like hanging out with each other… a lot.

But after surgery, things can both vastly or gradually become a lot different. For many people after ostomy surgery, sex can become an issue. It can become a fear or a worry, a question of whether your partner will still want you intimately. Many people after surgery can feel unattractive, like no one will ever want them again… without their clothes on. I know I did, when I first came out of surgery I refused to look at my stomach for days. When I finally looked down I hated what I saw. I hated the fact that I had something that made me different. The ileostomy bag wasn’t even the worst of it though. I was convinced I would never be able to change it myself, I didn’t want to see what was underneath. And I didn’t, for weeks on end my mum changed it for me, every time I got close to taking a peak I broke down, apologising frantically to my mum for being such a burden. Of course, she said it was fine, but it wasn’t fine in my eyes.

photo(2)I knew that the only way I’d be able to return home to my own flat was if I changed it myself, and so I plucked up the courage to do so, determined to gain back my independence. From then on I have been able to look at my stoma, and it has gotten easier and easier as each day has passed on. But in my head, that still didn’t mean it would be easy for my partner. Even though I was starting to feel better about myself, there was still the worry of, but how will he feel about my body? Will he still want me? Will he still find me attractive? And I guess that’s how a lot of people feel. And that’s why sex can matter more when you have a stoma. Not because it’s routine and not because it is a major factor in a relationship – but because it is one way of helping you feel better about yourself, and moving on from what has happened; it is one thing to tell you, you are still wanted.

I’m not talking about one night stands and I’m not talking about a major porn style session. I’m talking about the feeling of acceptance. From one person to another. Sex is something that brings two people together in a way like no other. And to have sex after surgery for a stoma is a big thing both mentally and emotionally. It takes a lot of confidence to strip down to your most vulnerable state, especially when you’re not completely sure of yourself. It also strikes the fear that you may not be as physically attractive to your partner. It forces you through a barrier of fear yet creates a window of hope that you’re sexually attractive. Which of course, you ARE. But for some people it takes time to realise that. It can take another person to push you into realising that.

Sex matters more because once you’ve had surgery, you can reach this level of unhappiness with your body that you may not be able to fix by yourself. You have this need to feel wanted, to be told you’re still beautiful. The feeling of loneliness in a relationship is worse than actually being on your own. And knowing you’re still wanted in an intimately physical way can help guide you back to a feeling of happiness. To be wanted is a beautiful thing, especially when you don’t feel you are in your natural skin.

Everyone deals with things in different ways and your partner may have a hard time dealing too. But remember that if they love you, it is almost certainly not anything to do with the fact you have a stoma. When in a relationship, everything you feel reflects onto your partner, it’s almost as if they are able to absorb your emotions. It may effect them in a way you don’t realise, or won’t acknowledge. Think about how you feel when seeing someone cry, or hurt, or become so distressed that you just don’t know what to do. Now imagine your partner watching you fall apart, having watched you being so ill and helpless for such a long time. And now having to watch helplessly as you deal with something that they may have never experienced themselves, trying to help you come to terms with something they may not understand

Ostomy surgery can effect a relationship in so many ways, it can cause tension, it can cause depression, it can cause so much anger that doesn’t actually stem from your relationship, just the trauma you’ve been through. Sex can help you move on from this because it increases stability – normality. It is the one thing that can fill the need for intimacy which may increase to fight against the negativity you may be feeling within yourself. It is one thing that can’t be taken away from you unless you let it. And if it has been, then talk about it. Because it matters. It matters more than ever. It matters because all you want when you feel so alone in your situation is love, attention, someone to scream at you that you are still fucking beautiful.

Sex is a great thing to share with someone you love. And if you feel alone in your relationship, or are scared of their reaction or how they feel towards you now, don’t be. If they love you the way they say they do, something as small as a stoma won’t effect that. If anything, they should feel more grateful that you’re still here, that they’re still able to show you that level of intimacy.

What you’ve been through has put you in a better position physically, so please don’t let it make you feel any differently mentally or emotionally. You’re still you, you’re still beautiful. Just with a bigger story to tell.

10 thoughts on “Why Your Sex Life Matters More When You Have A Stoma

  1. OstoLife says:

    This was really interesting to read. The biggest fear I have had since having ostomy surgery is relationships and intimacy. I find it increasingly difficult mentally to overcome this and reading this felt like you said everything in my head. Thank you for writing this.


  2. charlieendo says:

    I have Endometriosis & for years, after sex it often feels too painful to describe. But what I’ve also found is that even if you don’t feel like doing it as much as you used to, the person who’s really worth your time, will give you time. They’ll appreciate it takes planning 😉 and wait for the pain killers to kick in, and they’ll be there if it does hurt afterwards. X


  3. Peter says:

    Since I have had the iliostami I am different I have gone off sex completefly . Don’t think about the bag stall I don’t mean my wife lol I haven’t had the urge funny enough it’s the last thing on my mind


  4. Dian Humphreys says:

    Thank you so much! This article was amazing. My husband and I have not had sex in almost four years, since my surgery. Unfortunately, he made a comment during our one time that cut me to the core, and I just can’t shake it. Hopefully, sharing this article will help him really what I need. Thanks again!


  5. sara says:

    My husband has been amazing he helps me change my bag and cleans me up when I get in a mess! He tells me everyday he loves me ❤to be honest my bag hasn’t changed anything when I cry because I’m in pain or in a mess he’s there for me when I’m saying sorry because he has to clean my mess up he tells me to stop being so daft and without my ileostomy I would be dead and i’m beautiful he is truly amazing I love him so much and there is no pressure about sex I only had my ileostomy last November!!!Ive had a lot of problems with squidworth Lol my name for my bag!


  6. Kristi Holcomb says:

    I am a Stage IIIB Colorectal Cancer Survivor, who, as part of her “life-saving” surgery, not only got a stoma, but I also lost the ability to have sex. My tumor started at the rectum and grew so large, it invaded the vaginal wall. Both were resected… Imagine being in the prime of your “sexual” life – having a drop dead gorgeous husband with an appetite for frequent sex – only to be told sex might not be part of the “big picture” in order to save my life… I am proof that you can find sexual pleasure and satisfaction, both mentally and physically – without intercourse. Here is my story: http://kristiholcomb.vpweb.com


    • Mari says:

      I was very young when I had ulcerative colitis rare case and a tumour that’s why they removed my intestine.I wear a discrete stoma bag and still looking for a boyfriend but I’m scared if I meet someone to tell about my bag he will run away :(.
      Should I tell someone or wait to tell later is it a way of hiding with special lingerie?


  7. Sallie Agallo says:

    I am so encouraged reading this but honestly sex after Ostomy surgery has never been possible for me. I have lost 4 boyfriends because of this. Though they didn’t say, but the non verbals were clear. I guess alot of awareness is still required. Thanks for sharing your story. God bless.


  8. Ted says:

    I am a 38 year old guy. I had a colostomy done a year ago and it completely killed my sex life. Not only do I feel ugly, but it also made me impotent.

    Now my wife is feeling sexually frustrated and I told her that if she wants to have sex with another guy, that’s fine with me.


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