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Ileostomy and colostomy sex, intimacy and relationships advice

Initially you will be recovering from your surgery and getting used to the practicalities of living with a stoma so may not feel ready to be intimate. This is fine – give yourself time to recover from surgery first. Speak openly with your partner regarding your feelings and experiences as they may be more anxious about it than you. Promote intimacy through closeness, holding hands and kissing. The main thing to remember is to try to relax and feel comfortable.

Some types of surgery can impact on an individual’s sexual function. This could be due to physical changes to this area of your body, or you are simply just not ready yet. You may need to experiment to find the most comfortable position for intercourse. You should discuss this with your Stoma Care Nurse when you feel ready, to find out what impact (if any) your surgery could have.

When the time is right

You do not need to wear a special bag for intimate times, but if you choose to there are smaller sized bags and caps available. If possible, change your pouch before intercourse – having an empty bag will be more discreet. Cummerbund (wide support bands) help to conceal and support the bag. Women may wish to wear lingerie and there are several companies that make a variety of underwear styles for women living with a stoma.

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Women

Some women may experience loss of sensation, pain or dryness following some types of surgery. This can be helped with the use of lubricants, change of position and avoiding deep penetration. If you experience difficulties, your Stoma Care Nurse will be able to offer advice.

You should speak to your doctor regarding contraception if you require it, as it is still possible to conceive following stoma surgery. If you do want to become pregnant, please speak to your Consultant or GP as they are best placed to advise you. During pregnancy you may experience changes in the size of your stoma and consequently your template will require adjustment.

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Men

Men may experience difficulties in getting and maintaining an erection and ejaculation. This is because the nerves and blood supply involved with this may become bruised or damaged during surgery. This may improve with time, however if problems continue it is advisable to speak to your Stoma Care Nurse, as drugs and treatments such as Viagra, penile injections, implants or mechanical erectile appliances are available and can be very effective.

Warning: Intercourse via the stoma should never be attempted as this can be very dangerous.