Let's talk about sex!

Date: 02 May 2019      Category: Advice

Let's Talk About Sex

Top Tips for Feeling More Confident About Sex

Following stoma surgery, the thought of becoming intimate again with you partner or someone new can be nerve-racking. You have gone through a life changing experience and your self-esteem may have taken a beating while trying to accept your new body. We believe that building back your confidence is key to being able to enjoy sex again.

Here are our top tips for feeling more confident about sex.

Communication is Key

Be open and honest about your body’s physical needs and limitations as well as your feelings about the situation. Ensuring that you address any of your partner’s concerns will help them feel more confident as well. Language is your best tool for removing any awkwardness and helping you feel more relaxed.

Explore different underwear and accessories

There are many different types of stoma friendly underwear and additional products that can help you feel more secure and overall more confident with your bag. Products such as Stoma Caps, support bands, belts and mini stoma bags can be used, and high-waisted and crotchless underwear may also appeal to some people. Finding a piece of clothing or stoma product that helps support or cover your stoma bag, can make a world of difference to boosting your confidence.

Name your stoma

It may sound silly, but giving your stoma a name can help improve communication and also bring a sense of humour to what may be a nerve-wracking situation.

Freshen up

Similar to how you would brush your teeth or have a wee beforehand, it’s a good idea to empty your bag to feel fresher and more discreet.

Things for women to consider

Some women may experience loss of sensation, pain or dryness following some types of surgery and/or treatment such as radiotherapy. This can be helped with the use of lubricants, change of position and avoiding deep penetration. You may also wish to discuss this with your stoma nurse as some surgical procedures can alter the shape of your vagina which may make vaginal penetration difficult. Alternative methods of maintaining a physical relationship may need to be adopted by using your imagination for those ladies who have had surgery affecting the vagina.

There is some evidence that the effectiveness of the birth control pill is limited for people living with an ileostomy. This may be due to the speed of the medication passing through your digestive system and it not having chance to be fully absorbed into the body. We recommend that you talk to your doctor, stoma care nurse or family planning clinic about this.

Things for men to consider

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.

Men who have had their rectum and/or prostate removed will most likely be impotent and this should have been discussed preoperatively. Those gentlemen may have already been referred to the erectile dysfunction clinic and your surgeon or stoma nurse will discuss ways to maintain a satisfying sexual relationship.

Please note, a stoma should never be used for sexual purposes as the bowel could be damaged. As there are no nerve endings or sphincter muscles in the stoma, you would not feel any sexual satisfaction from using this part of your body.

Anal sex following surgery should be discussed with the stoma nurse as it may not be possible anymore due to the surgery and altered anatomy.

*This blog post was written in collaboration with a Salts Medilink Stoma Care Nurse.