Sex and Ostomy: General Considerations

Gloria Jiménez

Gloria Jiménez

Despite our differences, we all have one thing in common: we are sexual beings.

Sex is important to our emotional and physical well-being. Sexuality makes us feel whole, normal and loved. However, it is common for people who have undergone ostomy surgery to have altered sexual functioning for a period of time, which does not mean that they have lost their sexuality.

Most sexual problems experienced after ostomy surgery are more emotional than physical, and in many cases this occurs due to misinformation.

Some of the most common thoughts are the following:

1. No one is going to love me with a stoma > It is logical to feel this way but it is not true. When you feel comfortable with yourself, accept your situation and normalize it, your partner will too.
2. He/she will surely notice the smell of my ostomy pouch > Human beings produce smells. Not only an ostomized person. To have more security and confidence, there are special products on the market for ostomies that will help mitigate the odor of feces and urine. In SIIL Ostomy line we are working on the development of this type of products.

3. I can never be a mother again > Of course you can be a mother. Ostomized women get pregnant and have healthy children. However, close follow-up by the specialist during pregnancy will be important.

4. I will hurt my stoma > contact or proximity to another body will not hurt your stoma. However, you should not put anything in it. Your stoma is not a sexual object.

5. What to do if I have a leak > You can avoid it with a few simple tricks. Planning your encounters will always give you more self-confidence. Undergarments such as SIIL Ostomy Line panties, bands, Slim body or belts can be great allies for you. As they are made with antibacterial and absorbent fabrics, you will eliminate odors and infections as well as speed up the drying of the garments.

Another feeling that is intimately related to our sexuality is our physical image. The perception we have of ourselves of our bodies. It means how we see ourselves when we stand in front of the mirror and how we think our body functions and is perceived to others.

After ostomy surgery, where the physical change is evident, our feelings about sexuality and our self-esteem can be seriously threatened even though we are still the same person and in better health than before our procedure. Again, time and communication will be key factors in regaining self-esteem and including your sex life in the everyday aspects of your life.

After the procedure, there may also be some physical changes, such as pelvic pain that will also prevent you from being intimate with your partner. Do not worry, this is normal. Learn to take care of your stoma and to handle your devices correctly before having sexual encounters.

In the case of the sexuality of men with ostomy, if the surgical intervention affects the blood vessels or the nerves close to the male sexual organs, sexual potency may be reduced, there may be a decrease in erection or difficulty in ejaculation. 

As for the sexuality of women with ostomies, decreased libido or vaginal dryness may be normal.

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