Title: Seeking Advice on Lack of Intimacy After Surgery

Jul 04, 2014 8:04 pm


I am not sure why I am posting this, other than to get it off my chest. I was diagnosed with severe UC just over a year ago. I underwent an emergency ileostomy and spent the following 2 weeks in intensive care and the next 3 months in hospital. My wife was my absolute rock through the whole thing. I wouldn't have gotten through it without her. I would have just given up.

We have only been intimate once since my surgery, and that was towards the end of last year.

I have tried to talk to her about it, but she gives me no reason for it, other than she doesn't feel like it. I just get a cold response if I try to initiate something. My confidence is at rock bottom, and the lack of sex is eating me up inside. I don't think there is someone else. Am I wrong to be craving some kind of intimacy so much?

As I have said, I have tried asking her what's wrong. I also don't want to force her into something she doesn't want to do. I really don't know what my options are.

Hopefully, I will feel a bit better after getting that off my chest.

Jul 05, 2014 1:52 am
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Jul 06, 2014 6:53 pm

Hi cwright731,

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post. You have made some valid points and it has been useful for me to get a different perspective to my own. Which I think is what I needed and the reason for my post.

I don't just generally pounce on her when I want to get physical. I do love kissing and cuddles and felt that she just didn't want me near her. I will try and take a step back and give her some space. She does seem distant and I have asked on numerous occasions what is wrong and was she ok. She just says she is fine. We have been together for over 20 years so I can tell she isn't herself.

I will just be patient and try to be there if she wants to talk.

Thanks again for your reply. I really appreciate it.

All the best


Jul 08, 2014 5:52 am

Hi Jayd,

I read your post, and Cwright's response, and while she has a lot of good insight and makes some good points, there might be something else.

I have a number of friends who have spouses who have been chronically ill for a long time. They love their spouse and have stuck it out through the very bad times..... But for some, the process is draining and it turns them into a caretaker for the person they love. And when/if that person "gets well", it isn't easy for the one in the caretaker role to go back to being that sensitive, loving, and intimate spouse. A friend of mine had become so numb....shut off to feelings of intimacy during her husband's illness that by the time he was well, she was ready to divorce him. She loved him and really didn't even understand her lack of response. It's taken a lot of hard work and lots of therapy for them to regain the intimacy that had been long missing during his illness. I'm not saying that's the reason, but it's something to think about, and perhaps both of you could seek some help together.

Best of luck to you


Jul 08, 2014 1:30 pm

Hi Immarsh,

Thanks for your input. It is certainly something for me to be aware of and makes perfect sense. I am trying to show her that I don't need looking after anymore. I have recovered as much as I possibly can at this stage. However, I may have further surgery in the future.


Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister
Jul 08, 2014 2:24 pm

I agree with Immarsh. Cweight731 had some well thought out ideas and they may be valid. I took care of my husband for a very long time; the romance went out of the relationship after about 2 years. I realize you say you are better now and are taking care of yourself, but if she had to do a lot for the prior year, it's going to take awhile for her to get used to the shift change (meaning caregiver to lover again). We may believe in the "for better or worse, sickness and health" and be there no matter what; but it takes a huge toll on our emotions and physical capabilities if it lasts for any amount of time. None of us can say for sure what is bothering her - we are only giving our opinions based on experiences of our own or someone we know. She probably keeps telling you everything is fine because she doesn't want to make a big deal out of it and is trying to work it through on her own. In my relationship experience, once you make a big deal out of something - it tends to be harder to fix.

Also in my experience, it seems to take women longer to switch gears than it does men. Men don't seem to understand why we can't just go on as usual after the all clear siren blows. I can't explain that either - I guess it's just one of those major differences they write books about.

There is another topic on here almost exactly like this with more answers. I tried to find it, but it's a bit difficult finding old posts on here. My memory lacks a lot these days.

Jul 14, 2014 12:57 am


That's so sad......I had emergency surgery due to septic shock following an attempted sub-total colectomy. I have scleroderma and my colon was 'shot'..................Maybe she don't wanna hurt you, maybe she is not comfortable with the idea of intimacy yet. You all have kids? Assure her that even if your pouch would ever break......it ain't any worse than kid poop......it all washes off in the shower!!!

Jul 14, 2014 2:55 pm

Well written. And sort of sums up my experiences with a wife who won't accept my ostomy or won't talk about it; and of course, no sex or hardly any contact at all.

Jul 15, 2014 5:26 am

Would she mind if you sought affection elsewhere? Maybe you both need to go to local SC meetings, etc.

Does she realize talking about this might give you PMA? Do you have children? If so, how are they adapting? Are you working?

Jul 15, 2014 12:23 pm

What is PMA? She won't go to meetings. My kids are in their 40's and have their own lives. I'm retired.

Jul 17, 2014 4:50 pm

Jayd, I hope you felt better after getting it off your chest and realized there are many people in your situation...myself included.

In the end, my partner just couldn't deal with the bag during sex and that was the end for me. It wasn't my partner who ended it, I did. I needed someone who accepts me as I am because the colostomy is something I cannot change and I am far too young to give up on a loving, intimate relationship. Each relationship is different...that's just how it worked out for me.

Still looking for that person but for me, it's better than settling...no regrets!

Good luck in yours!


Past Member
Jul 18, 2014 1:44 am

Wow, Cwright731... I think you hit the nail on the head. Outstanding perception and insight. I think we all suffer from a lack of confidence, especially in the beginning. Without really admitting it to ourselves, we seek out validation, reassurance, and comfort from our partners, all the while denying it's just a testing tool. We tend to judge ourselves by the reaction of others. Fear of rejection is so overwhelming that proof of acceptance from our mate becomes a constant. Trying to stroke a damaged ego is just simply draining.

Jayd, with time, patience, and understanding on BOTH sides, things can work out. I wish you good health, comfort, joy, and regained inner peace. You are not defined by your attachments but by your strength and determination to live. You're a survivor..... SALUTE!!!


Jul 18, 2014 4:32 pm

Thanks for all your thoughts and opinions regarding this matter. It is good to hear other people's thoughts and perspective.

I don't intend to give up yet. Sometimes it can be quite disheartening though. Hopefully, given time, it will all work out. I do sometimes wonder if I am the problem or if I am reading too much into the situation.

Jul 26, 2014 11:22 pm

A few more thoughts to add to the mix.

I read an article in the Phoenix magazine where a woman was upset that she thought her husband no longer found her sexy because of the ostomy as he wouldn't come near her when she would change her pouch. It turned out the real reason he kept his distance is that each time he saw the ostomy, he was reminded of all the pain she had gone through. Your wife may be having similar things going on (and may not realize it). If you haven't seen it yet, check out Ostomy Secrets. They design wraps for ostomates that can be worn during sex to secure the pouch, but it may also help with the psychological baggage.

Maybe also try to think back to what was going on leading up to your surgery and lengthy hospital stay. While she very likely had nothing to do with why you became ill, maybe she blames herself in some way. We women are good at that.

Finally, rather than asking her questions, find quiet moments when you both have downtime and comment on your feelings without expecting a holy grail response from her. You're just looking for ways to open the door for her to talk about something she may not want to bring up. For example, "I was just thinking about everything we went through last year. I can't imagine how hard it must have been for you. You were my rock through it all. I love you." Or, "You may not realize it, but since my surgery, we've had sex a lot less than before, and I'm starting to feel like you no longer find me attractive."

Aug 13, 2014 7:40 pm

Jayd, this is a hard time for me as well... My husband did an amazing job keeping me alive... through surgery, rehab, another surgery, home health nurses, he even changed "wound dressings" as taught to him by a wound care nurse.... I fondly referred to him as 'Doc'... I am forever grateful for him and to him... This all happened much too soon in our relationship... We were intimate a couple of times in the beginning of this year... hadn't been intimate since the beginning of 2012 because this is when all that stuff started. We were married on 11-11-11 so you see, we should still be on our honeymoon... Other problems with this started in January and I had to go back on prednisone... gained a ton of weight... not too appealing to my husband at the moment.... I miss the "intimacy" more than the sex. But I will say this, I just keep on being as cheerful as I can, being supportive to him... understanding the stress it must have been on him for that 2 years of taking care of me... I am back to work full time and I finally feel strong enough to join a gym... 30 days into the gym and I feel so much better... Can't tell I go to a gym yet... LOL... but the spring in my step is higher and he sees how people around me are reacting positively to me and my recovery... I know that he'll come around... just as soon as he can see me as a healthy wife and not associate me with being bedridden for so long...

I hope for me, at least I am praying for this to be the case... we are moving to a new house in about a month... a new beginning so to speak... leaving the "sick" memories behind... The more normal I conduct myself, I think the more normal our relationship will become... it's a healing process for us all isn't it?

Don't give up Jayd, I'm not...

Jul 03, 2015 8:59 am

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