Ostomy and Intimacy
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
You can still continue to have intimacy in your life after an ostomy. As soon as you have recovered from surgery, you will be able to enjoy sexual experiences the same way you did prior to surgery. With the proper awareness and knowledge, hopefully you will realize that anxiety and other peoples' opinions about the ostomy, not the ostomy itself, complicate things in the bedroom.
Read on to learn the answers to your questions and to get advice about how you can handle situations that may be embarrassing for you.
Because of misinformation about ostomies, you are more likely to have emotional concerns about your sexual encounters after an ostomy than physical concerns. Some of the common myths surrounding ostomies include:
- Women with ostomies cannot conceive a child.
- Men will not be able to achieve and maintain an erection.
- It is mandatory for men to ejaculate for sexual gratification.
- The odor from the stoma will be a big turn off for your partner.
You may have feelings of low self-esteem after an ostomy, but this does not mean that these feelings do not have a solution. Here are the facts:
- Women have been successful in having healthy babies after an ostomy.
- Some reports say that men actually have better orgasms after surgery. However, it is important to know that you will need to regain your strength after surgery, and try not to get discouraged after the first unsuccessful attempt.
- Try to remember that your partner cares about all of you and not just the physical parts. Additionally, the design of ostomy pouches provides for maximum comfort and hygiene – for both you and your partner.
- Men can have dry orgasms which involve no ejaculation. There is no need for you to feel the pressure to ejaculate after surgery.
- The material of the ostomy pouches makes it possible to let air pass into the bag without releasing odor. If odor is still of concern, you can use deodorizers that are inserted inside the pouch.
What to do before getting intimate after surgery
It will take time to get used to your body after surgery. However, it is natural to feel fluctuations in your libido. Talking to your partner about your fears and explaining your anxieties about getting intimate is the best thing that you can do to strengthen your relationship.
The following will help you feel at ease when getting intimate with your partner:
- Make sure you change/empty your pouch.
- Secure the pouch to your abdomen properly with medical paper tape.
- Make sure your ostomy belt is clean if you wear one.
- You may use an ostomy pouch cover for the pouch if its appearance distracts you.
- Many brands of 'passion pouches' are available that are smaller as compared to regular ostomy bags.
- You should also try to focus on your feelings rather than the pouch.
- Women may use lubricants or suppositories to combat vaginal dryness.
What foods to avoid
Certain food items that can cause gas, odor, diarrhea, and obstruction should be avoided. Eating foods such as eggs, garlic, onions, cabbage, cheese, alcohol, popcorn, raisins, and seeds is not recommended after an ostomy.
Burt Cancaster, Author