Tips on having sex after an ostomy surgery
An ostomy surgery results in many physical as well as emotional challenges. One of the most commonly asked questions before and after this surgical procedure is ‘am I going to be still be able to have sex.’ Or at the very least it should be one of the most commonly asked questions, because the most likely alternative to that would be that people automatically assume that they can’t –or shouldn’t- have sex anymore. And maybe they won’t be able to engage in intercourse the way they used to, but there are indeed ways to work around a stoma.
Separate fact from fiction. There is a lot of ‘he says, she says’ when it comes to sex after ostomy, so you should be able to distinguish hearsay from stone-cold facts. Some of the myths regarding sex and ostomy include:
- Penetrative sex is the only one that counts
This one completely overlooks the overall value that foreplay can bring to sex, but if it were true we would all simply hire the services of a professional. As it turns out, both physical and emotional pleasure may be derived from holding hands, hugging, kissing, oral sex, masturbation, etc. That is not to say that penis-in-vagina sex (and all it may bring with it) isn’t possible, as we’ll see next.
- Women with a stoma can’t have children
Not only can they get pregnant, but they can have perfectly healthy children. However, a professional healthcare provider should follow up through the pregnancy.
- People with a stoma are not attractive
Everyone who has undergone a procedure that has changed their physical appearance are bound to lose self-confidence. But the human body will decay no matter what, and as clichéd as it may sound, it’s what’s inside that matters, and many people are willing and able to look past any apparent shortcomings.
- Men can’t have erections after surgery
You may not be able to have an erection right after surgery, but surgical procedures and erections are more similar than you might think. Both require some recovery time before you attempt to have another erection. Try again when you feel better.
- Having sex will spread cancer
This one entirely revolves around another unfounded ostomy myth that claims that only people with cancer have ostomy surgery. Actually neither are true and cancer isn’t a contagious disease, sexually or otherwise.
- Odor from a stoma is a turn off
- Movement and pressure of bodies hurts the stoma
Close contact and movement don’t hurt the stoma, provided that nothing (and that means absolutely nothing, for all you fetishists out there) goes into the stoma.
- Old people have no sex drive
Similar to the cancer myth, not only old people undergo ostomy surgery, and those who do don’t necessarily lose whatever sex drive they had on account of it.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Feel free to ask a doctor, wound ostomy continence nurse, or enterostomal therapy nurse.
Identify and deal with the reactions to surgery that may interfere with sex. Sex is all in the mind, or at least much of it is; the proof is that stress can prevent you from enjoying intercourse. Ostomy surgery also has emotional repercussions that may get in the way of your sexual life; ramifications that may be have you feeling:
- Afraid of leakage, rejection, nakedness
However, these are problems that you may have bottled up inside since long before and you may be using your ostomy surgery as a scapegoat to chalk them up to. In any case, you can really benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist about these issues.
Be aware of the physical changes that ostomy may bring about. An ostomy involves the removal of one or all of the following organs and body parts: rectum, bladder, colon, ovaries, uterus, and vagina. As can be expected, this may have quite an impact on a person’s sex life, and that impact is felt differently in men and in women. To a greater or lesser extent this changes may affect:
- Sexual desire
- Painful intercourse
- Vaginal wetness
Learning about these changes before and after surgery will help you understand what your sexual alternatives may be in the short and long-term.
Communicate with your partner. This requires a proper balance of openness and discretion. Of course you want to let your partner know about your ostomy and what it means to you both, but you probably shouldn’t wait till you’re in bed to let them find out about it. Even if it’s someone you know very well, say a boyfriend or husband, you’d be surprised to see how little most people really know about ostomy surgery. Since you are not very likely to be able to hide a stoma or a pouch forever, there are certain topics of conversation that are a must, and better sooner than later:
- Physical limitations
- Mutual expectations
- Sexual likes and dislikes
- Emotions such as anger, resentment, or guilt
Tips for men, women, and both.
· Lean a little toward the pouch-free side of your tummy when on top
· Consider wearing a cummerbund around your midsection
· Try wearing boxers to cover the pouch
· If you keep failing to achieve an erection, keep calm and talk to a doctor.
· Use personal lubricants for vaginal dryness
· Talk to doctor about hormone creams and suppositories for dryness
· Consider crotch-less panties
· Keep in mind it’s normal that you might not have an orgasm the first time you have sex after surgery
· Practice protected sex
· Empty pouch before intercourse
· Secure the pouch
· Clean ostomy belt if you wear one
· Use a pouch cover or a pouch that is not translucent if it makes you feel better
· Use smaller, close-end, disposable pouches called ‘passion pouches’
· Irrigate right before sex to be able to use a ‘security pouch’ (when applies)
Keep a positive outlook. Sex has always and forever mystified humanity since day one. Some might say that sex is already complicated enough without an ostomy, but let’s not forget the sex is supposed to be fun. And while ostomy is a very serious business, having a joyful sexual life may help you get your mind off it, if only for a little while. Well, hopefully a lot longer than just a little while, but you get the idea.