Intimacy with an Ostomy

Although it’s normal to feel sensitive about how an ostomy changes your body, meaningful and fulfilling intimate encounters can still be part of your and your partner’s lives. Communication and trust are at the heart of the healing process. It’s comforting to know that sexual relations will not hurt your stoma—or you. Share your feelings with your partner, and respond to 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.
  • The old adage is true: The way you see yourself influences the way others see you. Take 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. You’ll find that acceptance of your body after surgery comes with time.
  • 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, and wear a small pouch. For intimate moments, special pouches are available that are designed to be smaller and less bulky.
  • If your stoma makes you uneasy during intimate moments, cover your pouch with specially designed underwear, lingerie or pouch covers. We offer a stylish line of undergarments, intimacy wraps and more that can help take your mind off your ostomy and allow you to focus on your partner.

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, call your healthcare provider. Most likely, there is a solution.

Request ostomy product samples that may help you feel more confident and secure.


Meet Lee Thrash

Lee Thrash was about to graduate from high school in 1997 when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Despite missing the last three months of the school year, she graduated and – against the advice of doctors and family members – started college. Although the disease was an overwhelming part of every day, she graduated with a degree in English. For the next 12 years, Lee fought to have a “normal” life, pushing through the treatments, flares, illness and chronic weakness.

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Teacher, Principal

Meet Walt Brilhart

A life-long educator, Walt Brilhart has always taken care of others – as a teacher, principal, executive director and associate superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools. When he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 38, Walt needed someone to take care of him. His wife, Lallah, and three sons supported him through full proctocolectomy surgery, but afterwards, he felt devastated.Inspired by the stories of others living with an ostomy, Walt was encouraged to recover. Soon, he was back “on the course,” coaching students, playing the keyboard at church and golfing several times a week.

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