How to discuss ostomy with a date?

Captain Tact
May 20, 2013 3:08 am

I have a date this weekend and am not sure how to bring up the subject of my ostomy. I don't think anything is going to happen, but it was a fairly important event in my life....and something that I should probably tell her about.

I'm not secretive about it and not ashamed of it by any means...but I also tend to be a little flippant..."Oh yeah, four years ago I almost died. Spent a month in the hospital...I'm better now though. Well, mostly. Had another surgery last summer and probably could have died again. NOW I'm better. Probably."

Any help is much obliged...

May 20, 2013 5:51 pm
Since you have no replies,

I have dated people with ostomies and people without. My suggestion is to wait 2 or 3 dates before you bring it up to a non-ostomate. This gives both parties time to evaluate the other person based on something besides how they go to the bathroom. It also will give the non-ostomate the chance to see that you live a normal lifestyle and don't require any special treatment. (Remember, a lot of people don't know.)

You should know fairly quickly if you want to continue seeing this person...there is no need to tell everyone you date you have an ostomy (even if you aren't ashamed).

By the third date, if things are going can just tell them that you have something you have to tell them....then wait till the end of the date....this gives them time to think... "what could it be?"... depending on how interested in you they are... some things that might cross their minds...has he been to prison, is he still married, etc...they will think of bad things...and when you tell them you have a small medical condition...they are usually just relieved.

Don't be worried about physical intimacy...stop just short of anything that would reveal your secret...until you tell her, and she will never guess.

In my age group, it's quite possible that she will also have something to share... some medical thing...high blood pressure, diabetic...etc...this will actually take some pressure off her to share it.
[She may be worried that you will run when she tells you].

Good luck.. remember love is like bear hunting...... sometimes you get the bear....sometimes the BEAR gets YOU..!!!
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Captain Tact
May 20, 2013 11:38 pm

Hmm....that would probably work. She's also going to be working with me on my running, so I probably should tell her at some point...

I do have a fairly large hernia around my ostomy so it protrudes quite a's noticeable, especially if the pouch fills with gas. I'm probably making more of this than I need to.

Let nature take its course does seem the best way to go.

May 20, 2013 11:45 pm

I completely agree with Mild Mannered! I went on my first and last blind date 13 years ago yesterday. I was 20 and he was 21. I waited a few months before I knew it was time to confide in him. I didn't go into detail. I told him briefly my medical history and followed up with my surgery. His exact words "So are we making this official?" I actually said no. I told him I wanted him to go home that night and think about it. His reply "There's nothing to think about". I knew even at his young age of 21 that he could handle it. I married him 3 years later and have now been married for 10 years.

Have a great time this weekend!!

Past Member
May 21, 2013 1:05 pm

MMSH gives some good advice.

And love your flippancy.

Good luck!

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
May 27, 2013 2:28 am

Hey Cap- I feel you should tell the person upfront. Could you imagine going out with a female on several dates and she says "Oh, by the way, I am a man"? While having a bag is not that extreme, if you go into a relationship hiding something, you are deceiving your partner. If you tell them first and they decide to go through with the date, think about what a special person that is and the possibilities are endless. Good luck with your decision and remember it is only my opinion and not the end of the world. Take care, Jim.

Past Member
May 27, 2013 3:31 am

Regardless if you told or not, I hope you had a good first date that may very well lead to a second date.

May 27, 2013 6:58 am

Right off the bat, I have to react to bagmancny and say that transwomen are women, not men, so if you went out with a woman who was a transwoman, you would not have been going out with a man. Especially in this group we should understand the complex and painful range of medical conditions and body issues.

To go to your question, when I was much younger and single, I used to be so conflicted and embarrassed and ashamed. I had my surgery when I was 9, so I came of age with an ostomy and all the issues that came with that. I used to wait until I was sure the person was deeply connected to me before saying anything. And when I told them, it was a BIG CONVERSATION, usually involving tears.

However, it has never made one lick of difference to any romantic partner I've had in my life. Ever. I think, in part, that has been because I let people know me first. It's not hiding something. The fact is, it's not that big a deal to most people.

These days, as a single person for the first time in 23 years, I have taken advantage of technology, and when I get to the point where I feel it's appropriate to tell someone about it, I send them a link to a Wikipedia article as a, "Oh, you should probably know this about me."

I find that people will follow my lead with this information. If I present it as a game-changing, difficult conversation, it becomes game-changing and difficult. If I present it as, "Oh, yeah, there's this thing you should probably know if we're gonna get naked together," people are put at ease and don't find it as momentous.

canyon home
May 27, 2013 1:19 pm

That is the absolute best answer to all of the intimacy issues I've read yet! Bar none. If you let it be the big deal, game-changing element of your life - so it shall be. Well said. Thanks.

Past Member
May 27, 2013 2:00 pm

When I told my guy friend (platonic, but he wanted that to change) after 4 months of fun dating, he wrote in response to my email reveal, "Oh, I'm so sorry that happened to you! But we shall remain friends forever!" My new guy responded, "What does an ostomy have to do with your vagina? Now go get 5 pairs of crotchless panties!" Interesting responses, don't you think.

May 27, 2013 3:00 pm

Sometimes I tell the person over the phone before we meet in order not to waste each other's time. But if I like their voice and conversation, I make a date to meet them.
I feel if we meet in person and they see I'm a nice guy, I have a better chance of carrying on a friendship or relationship.
At one point, I tell them I have something to tell you. I tell them that in 2001, I had colon cancer surgery which involved removing everything, etc., and left me with an ostomy pouch on my abdomen at all times. I'm comfortable with my surgery as if they did not catch the cancer when they did, I would not be here to tell the story as colon cancer moves very quickly.
Then I say that I keep the bag clean and wear modified briefs to keep the bag in place during intimate times.
And you might be surprised as I was one time when I started to tell someone about my surgery and he said - Oh - you have an ileostomy. Seems that he had a reversible ileostomy several years ago. Or else the person knows someone in the family with the same thing.
Main thing is to give yourself enough time to show the person you're meeting that you're a nice guy.
Good luck.

May 27, 2013 10:29 pm

Not all gay men are women. Not all transvestites are gay. I was using it as an example and giving my opinion. It would be nice to help the kid out with some advice as you so nicely did in the second paragraph. I hope everything goes well with his date and the advice or opinions that were posted are of some help.

May 27, 2013 10:38 pm

I think my comments apply to anyone - gay or straight or whatever. Giving the other person a chance to know you and make a decision based on your personality, etc., can make a difference when you tell them of your ileostomy.
I really don't get where you thought I was gearing my comments based on sexuality, but I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.
Good luck to you as well as all my fellow ostomates out there.

May 28, 2013 12:14 am

Must be a misunderstanding. My comments were directed towards the lady who said she needed to "react" to my comments and not you. I will refrain from posting anymore on this post as I don't want to get off the subject of the initial post by the Captain.

Captain Tact
May 28, 2013 3:28 am


I'm 38....pretty far from a kid....just don't date a lot.

And actually, in thinking about it, it could work for a guy or a girl- no matter your gender or orientation. You could have new co-workers or guys in a bowling league, or whatever. How do you bring it up to new people without alienating them? And not because of any grossness factor, but more allow them time to process it as part of you, not as the first thing they know about you. If I met someone and the first words out of their mouth are "Hi, I'm Bob....I have an artificial leg.", it would be almost like a dare...I don't want to do that to people. Telling her one on one is the way to go...have to find a good time though. And hope I can get enough of a word in that I can tell her.

May 28, 2013 3:48 pm

When I was new at having an ostomy, I would just blurt it out to anyone. That was over 40 years ago. I was young and single, but thrilled with my newfound health (Crohn's - ileostomy). I met my husband at a Christmas party, had a few drinks, and said, "I'll bet you can't guess what I've got." So I blabbed. On our first date, he asked me what I was telling him. Well, here I am single again. I agree with a lot of the replies you've had. Mostly, I've finally learned over time to keep my mouth shut until I size up the other person. And here I am at 68, people in my age group have so many health issues that it makes an ostomy seem trivial. And it is! I don't say anything now unless I'm planning on intimacy because it's just not important.

And the sexuality issues were interesting -- the analogy about a trannie. One of my close friends from childhood shared with me, just two years ago, that he was a transvestite. You could have knocked me over! He came to my house dressed as a woman one Halloween because his wife didn't want to go to this particular party and said, "This is the real me." Now THAT was a shock! Later on, he started to explain everything, and I cried because I said, "I've always thought of you as my brother -- I didn't know you were my sister!" He cracked up laughing. After much research and talks with him and his wife of over 40 years, I don't comprehend it, but he's my friend of over 60 years, and as I said to him one night, I look at you and see your soul -- I'm not looking at how you're dressed, etc. You're simply my friend.

I don't know about you, but I especially love a wicked, bawdy sense of humor in a person. The rest is just trimmings. So we wear a bag. Aren't we lucky people to have had our health restored? In my grandmother's day, she would have died at age 27. Don't tell someone about yourself like you have something wrong. You simply have something different. And it certainly doesn't interfere with a healthy sex life!

May 29, 2013 5:48 am

Hey there....I am 59 and have had a couple of relationships since having an ileostomy....I found that if the first date was going well I told him..,..just tell the truth...also telling the person gives them a chance to either "exit stage left" or tell you it doesn't matter.....I'm sure it won't matter to your date.....not telling them right away will create anxiety and stress to you. I'm sure it will be fine....cheers!!

Past Member
Jun 13, 2013 12:53 am

About your hernia ~ you may want to get that taken care of as soon as possible. My doctor wasn't too concerned that my ostomy was herniated and prolapsed, and one evening I woke to my large intestine being prolapsed about 8" and about as big as a bologna roll. I ended up having emergency surgery and losing 18" of my intestine. Good luck on your date!

Captain Tact
Jun 16, 2013 11:44 pm

I have an appointment tomorrow to have it looked at and schedule surgery. The date went OK, but not a lot of signs for a second. No worries...I actually met someone else (y'know...not for nothing, but my social life has improved a LOT since the ostomy) and we've been talking. Figure out a good time for a date, and it could be pretty nice! Also, I told her about it and she seems to have accepted that's awesome right there!

Past Member
Jun 17, 2013 1:26 pm

Keep up the good work, Single Guy!

Nov 18, 2013 6:14 pm

I've found that the top 3 possibilities that go through people's minds are: 1) You used to be the opposite sex, 2) Been to prison, or 3) You're dying (no offense but I have been asked that before revealing the truth).

Dec 03, 2013 6:27 pm

My opinion is that it should be said sooner rather than later. I brought the topic up of mine in a light-hearted manner, by saying that I had Crohn's Disease and had a life-saving operation, which resulted in a colostomy at the time, now an ileostomy. The Crohn's was easy to bring into the conversation as it affects my joints on my whole right side, and my hair had come out at the time, and I was wearing a wig, but the chap in question wasn't worried about it at all, and it never affected our sex life. He was glad I had been upfront about it right from the start. I am no longer with him because I felt we were on different wavelengths after 18 months, but my health issues were not a problem x

Dec 05, 2013 12:01 pm

Hi, just wanted to say please, please don't leave it until it becomes a full-blown emergency. You may get septicemia or worse, your remaining bowel may get strangled and lose its blood supply. In that case, the bowel can die.
It is not wasting your doctor's time. They would sooner see it earlier as they have more options in treatment and ongoing management. Plus, it will eventually cost you a fortune (plus embarrassment) when your bag won't stay on and you have to continually clean up not just yourself but you have to carry a whole change of clothes with you and a packet of "bath bags" (pre-moistened soapy washcloths used in hospitals for bed baths) and then constantly trying to smell yourself because you feel dirty.
So please humor me and go to the doctor. I only want to hear you say, "I went and this is what transpired." I will sleep easier then. God bless you and help you make the right decision for you going forward. Kind regards, LC.

Captain Tact
Dec 06, 2013 6:08 am

I think you may have posted to the wrong place....if you did, the person won't get this.

Past Member
Dec 06, 2013 5:49 pm

I haven't dated as of yet, but have talked a couple of times on the phone. I was thinking that after a couple of dates (dancing, racing, fishing, or whatever), then I would tell. I was thinking that after he could see that I'm totally functional with life on our first two to three dates, then I would tell... Does anyone agree with this? Or should I tell on day one of a date...? I just don't know... Getting back into the dating thing seems kinda like it's going to be hard to do with my ileostomy... Alisa

Dec 13, 2013 7:33 pm

I totally sympathize, Alisa. I thought the same thing, and here's my take:

We all know there's more to life than stupid trivial superficialities like do we have scars, do we have this or that, etc. That includes a bag. None of us asked for this, or asked for any of the diseases we have, and if we could change it, we would, but we can't. That being said, I tell people IMMEDIATELY because I want to weed out the kind of folks who can't handle my ileostomy. Folks like that are probably - to be honest - pretty shitty people, and I don't want to associate with shitty people. So that's #1, LOL

#2 is, I open with this - "I had a near-death experience at 35 that changed my life." Then I tell them what that near-death experience was, and I tell them that I consented to an ileostomy because I didn't want to die. That really brings it home to decent people because they can put themselves in my shoes. It helps them understand what kind of choice I had. And then they look at me, vibrant and alive, and they can't tell that I have it and go, "Oh. Well, that's not such a big deal." Because really it isn't, lol. No man I've been intimate with or dated ever cared. One of them told me that it was part of me and part of what made me who I was, and we have to (as human beings) accept people for who they are regardless. Which was a really nice way to put it.

Personally, I feel that as ostomates, WE are more sensitive to it than anyone else because we FEEL "different." We FEEL not "normal." Meanwhile, our loved ones and other fellow human beings are looking at us as yes different and yes not normal, but not because we have bags (they don't seem to care about that) but because when you go through something so traumatic and life-altering, it changes you into a whole other person... your new appreciation and love of life and wisdom and understanding and HUGE strength that you've gained enduring such a thing RADIATES from you and touches everyone around you.

In short, have no fear, buttercup! The worst has already happened.