Does Having a Stoma Affect Your Confidence and Relationships?

Jul 01, 2024 7:11 am

Hi all

A thing that has been playing on my mind recently is the feeling of being wanted. Whether you're single or in a relationship, does having a stoma affect the way you think others feel about you, or does it affect how you behave in certain situations?

I know a lot of people will admit to having confidence issues post-surgery. I was just wondering what everyone's take is.

Jul 01, 2024 7:52 am

Hello Cheekymonkey111.
It's a good question you ask and it is one that has been asked by many people both with and without stomas

'Confidence' is an attribute that needs to be worked upon, 'built' up, and maintained regularly if it is to be of benefit on a day to day basis. 
It can easily be undermined by such things a operations, falls, covert and overt bullying, and many more things/traumas including self-doubt.
Interestingly, I have just included 'building confidence' as a useful DIY technique in a different post on here today. It is possibly one of the most important and useful things to develop for anybody in any set of circumstances. Having a stoma is only one of a whole host of things that can knock one's confidence -(if you let it).
One of the techniques for avoiding this is to build in some resilience, so that when adverse circumstances arise, you are already somewhat 'prepared'.
Best wishes

PS: This is such an important concept, I has prompted my rhyme for today (below)
I will also post it separately, as this way it will automatically be stored in my 'collections'.


I’ve always felt self-confidence
does not arise through negligence
or even through intelligence
but rises through due diligence.

Confidence is like a skill,
which sadly weakens when we’re ill
and, as far as I can tell
may strengthen when we’re feeling well.

Confidence can take a dive
when we’re trying to survive
and the odds seem pretty low
and our despondency will grow.

Confidence can take a knock
when we fall or find a block,
which prevents our progress and
is not a very helpful hand.

Confidence can lower when
either speech or poisoned pen
is bullying, or critical,
illogical, or cynical.

Confidence can come and go
depending upon what we know
and how we think our way through life
to overcome our angst and strife.

Confidence is undermined
when certain people are unkind
and we take it personally
festering it internally.

Confidence is built on trust
and self-reliance is a must,
so to increase self-confidence
DIY’s a preference.



DIY: SELF-CONFIDENCE. (continued->

Self-confidence needs to be built,
not on the shifting sands of guilt,
or self-doubt, or blame, and shame,
but with a self-supporting aim.

Confidence is an attribute
to which we all can contribute 
by giving support and being kind
with no malice on our mind.

But each of us should work upon
our own self-confidence and don
an air of self-assurance where
we can show we really care.

Self-confidence can grow if we
open our minds, so we can see
other people’s points of view
and learn to know what to value.

It is no coincidence
that people with self-confidence
have practiced positivity,
rejecting negativity.

They also know decisiveness
is nothing like divisiveness
and get to know what’s right and wrong
so they can grow both ‘kind’ and strong.

I feel most people might agree,
self-confidence, to some degree
can be learned and can taught
and, for some, it may be bought.

But beware of those out there
who seem to confidently care
only about themselves, for they
are narcissists, who’ll make you pay.

                                                B. Withers 2024

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Jul 01, 2024 11:56 am

Hello CheekyMonkey


'Being Wanted' is an interesting one...


Intimacy comes in so many ways - and in order to really feel 'beloved', one needs to have arrived at the point of loving oneself unconditionally....

Yet 'being wanted' is a more general, but nonetheless specific concept... for one may feel 'wanted' if one is able to contribute in a particular way - or indeed be 'wanted' in a sexual-desire way - both very different.


If one has low self-esteem, then no matter how intimate one may be with another person, one can [at times] be left 'wanting', i.e., wondering whether one is really loved!


In my humble opinion, 'To feel wanted' is very much a state of mind.


It takes time to recover from a major lifestyle change - as it does from a change in a personal relationship...


But by far - it is important to understand that we are - within ourselves - "enough"... and we continue - or contemplate our lives going forward with a healthy view of setting goals which are realistic for our wellbeing - and also goals which 'stretch' us a little - and also practice gratitude for what we DO have and for what we ARE able to give of ourselves to another/other folk... by LIVING IN THE MOMENT AND ENJOYING THE EXPERIENCE no matter what!


Sometimes such experiences can be really challenging... deep pain/protracted pain - both of a physical nature AND an emotional 'wanting', particularly when we feel needy.


It's OK to feel needy at times - but not, in my humble opinion, sensible to wallow in a negative frame of mind.


I wish you the best possible for TODAY and for your plans for tomorrow going forward.


Best Wishes from the UK



Jul 01, 2024 3:26 pm

I have never viewed stomas differently from many people. I have had mine since I was 19, and I'm 55 now, but I have been around stomas all my life as my dad had one long before I was born.

You just need time to truly accept your stoma and not just say you have one, like so many of the bloggers on Instagram and Facebook do. You can see from what they say that they haven't even started to accept their stoma. We're all different in the time it takes to accept our stomas; just keep fighting, and you'll get there in your own good time.

Jul 01, 2024 4:39 pm

I don't lack confidence. My stoma only affects me if I let it. Own your stoma or whatever health issue you have, and others will see if it doesn't affect you, why should it affect them.

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Jul 02, 2024 1:10 am

As a single person, I don't let a lot of people know about my front butt. Some family members still don't know after 8 years. Some friends know. The people who know treat me no differently.

I am always invited to parties. Wanted here and there.

It's sleepovers I take issue with.

Confidence is a big factor as Bill described above, and Alex's comment is spot on. I won't reiterate what they both said.

It's clear what needs to be done... don't let it run your life. Move on.


Jul 03, 2024 2:03 am

It took a couple of years, but you get to a point where it becomes part of you... But for each person, it's different. I never thought I'd be comfortable talking about having one to extended family, friends, or even strangers, but I don't care who knows anymore. It's part of me and my life story. Accept me as I am or don't. That's my mindset now. And I can't ever see myself without having one. It saved my life. And I make jokes, like the butt front comment :)

Jul 06, 2024 2:56 pm

My confidence has taken a huge knock after the end of my relationship.

But the fact that I was able to meet someone, date, fall in love, get married, and live with them for three years shows that it wasn't the stoma stopping me - it was myself.

Right now I don't know if and when I will try dating again, putting myself out there and being vulnerable. But I know that I can do it.

Jul 07, 2024 1:48 am

Well heck. I am alone here.

Yes! It has a huge effect on intimacy. As in, go away, I am not normal, ugly, distorted.

I am 66. Fit. Pretty. Married forever, but intimacy as in sex? It's me. I can't get the pouch out of my mind.

There you go.

Honest reply.


Jul 07, 2024 2:05 am
Reply to GraceFalls


Honestly, we do bear our pouches... and yeah, sure, such an appendage impinges upon our reality... The 'trick,' it seems to me, is all about balance.

~ ~ ~ waves ~ ~ ~


Jul 07, 2024 7:02 am


Having had a stoma twice, the first time around I had just turned 30. It really knocked my confidence. I didn't want to tell anyone, I didn't like it, and I was desperate to have a reversal as quickly as possible. I didn't want my husband to touch me. My son, who was about 6 or 7 at the time, wouldn't cuddle me because he was scared poop would get on him, so that didn't help. I just hated it.

Now, I'm 43 and just had my second stoma. I'm way more confident about it. I feel and look much healthier, and my life is much better with a stoma. Maybe it's an age thing, but I don't care what people think anymore. I'm happier and have so much gratitude for being able to live fully again now. I'm still with my husband, who has never been anything less than amazing, and we have a great sex life now. He's really helped me to not think about it, and after a few times, you honestly don't. My friends have been so supportive; they've all seen it and love it for helping to make my life better. I think that practicing gratitude for my stoma, being honest and open about my fears during intimacy, and maybe age, have genuinely contributed to my confidence this time around, but it's something you have to work on, and I think you can only do that by having those difficult conversations with people.

Jul 07, 2024 12:47 pm
Reply to GraceFalls

I get what you mean. It sucks to be us. But... you do move on... adjust... don't be too hard on yourself.

Jul 08, 2024 7:04 am


Well, I've had the stoma for about a year now, an emergency colostomy due to Crohn's. I'm going to be honest, I don't like it at all...

Yes, my confidence has been shattered. My friendships are fine; however, anything more than that, I'm pretty much terrified of and won't move forward at this point in time. I'm always worried about the entire "stoma/bag thing"...

It's going to take a while and a very special person to deal with this "situation"...

I'm sorry this is not a positive response, but it's an honest one...

I'm hoping to have a reversal done one day, then maybe I'll be able to have an "intimate relationship" again. My self-confidence is very low due to this. I don't even want to think about "dating".





Jul 10, 2024 6:15 am

It comes down to what you have to offer in a relationship. If all you have to offer is good looks and a stunning physique, then you will certainly lack confidence with a stoma. You typically attract the type of person you project that you are. If you like hiking or mountain climbing, you will attract hikers and mountain climbers. If you like dancing, you will attract dancers. If you like community volunteering, you will attract other community volunteers. Why do you think so many entertainers are married to other entertainers? Doctors to other doctors/nurses? Etc. There are so many people that have entered unfulfilling relationships based primarily on lust — these rarely last. Relationships last when you genuinely enjoy being in each other's company. I'll leave you with two thoughts:

"He that would catch fish must venture his bait." -- Benjamin Franklin

"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying." -- Michael Jordan


Jul 14, 2024 10:16 pm

Well, I don't like the looks of a stoma—who does? But I'll be damned if I let it control my life to the point of depression or lack of confidence. It saved my life! So in gratitude, I choose to look at life differently instead of poor old pitiful me. There are many ways to look attractive and sexy. My stoma is the least of my concerns! By the way, I've had many relationships through the years and not a single one rejected me.

Jul 14, 2024 11:33 pm

In my case, it was like Katakana described: age was a huge factor in accepting my less-than-perfect self, inside and out.

In my 20s and 30s, hell, I wouldn't even put the garbage out without putting on eyeliner!

In my 40s and early 50s, after divorcing my first husband, I rejoined the dating scene and not one man I dated was perfect either. But I still fretted about wrinkles and gaining even five pounds.

Now that I'm in my 60s (I had my ileostomy this year), I have total acceptance of my body with the stoma. It took a while to venture out and rejoin the land of the living, but nothing much changed. I almost forget that I have a stoma. Once I got the right wardrobe and became less worried about the "ick factor," my self-confidence has come back stronger than ever. In a way, having that surgery proved to me that I am much more than my external skin. While I still try to look nice and stay active, I laugh at my former 20-year-old self needing to wear full makeup before stepping a toe outside. That poor kid!

If anything happened to my current husband, I wouldn't even have the desire to date again. I am content and I love my life. Yes, I would be lonely, but I would still have my memories and remaining family around me. I would probably have another dog at that point for companionship and slobbery dog kisses.

And my life has definitely been extended by that life-saving surgery. It's a pretty good life and I want to be living it. What others think of me or whether they would want me or not doesn't really enter my mind anymore. Again, it may be age-related self-confidence. We just start to care less about how we're perceived by others; instead, we look for ways to give to others and make their lives a little bit better.

Stay well!






Jul 18, 2024 1:48 am
Reply to katakana

I agree. It's about being fully open about everything you feel, and inviting others into your situation. Of course, you will meet some individuals that aren't open-minded... Who cares? Life goes on. I've come to terms with my ostomy, and date as I would if I didn't have one. Let your true individual self shine, and be the unique person that you are.

Jul 18, 2024 5:38 pm

We just start to care less about how we're perceived by others; instead, we look for ways to give to others and make their lives a little bit better.

Beauty, Love, and Wisdom are enrichments we can all grow from, and vanity can be harsh. So too can self-criticism... but when all is said and done, we might be happiest when we learn to give and contribute... but also learn to receive, without judgment or hurt.


~ ~ ~ Jayne ~ ~ ~