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Feeling unattractive

Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:46 pm
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Lately I find myself struggling with feeling unattractive... Partly due to a lack of attention from my spouse, and partly due to how I look shirtless...


Before my ileostomy, I was always shirtless when the weather got hot... But after surgery in '08, I'm never without some kind of shirt on... It never really bothered me before, as I gained quite a bit of weight after I could eat again, but now that I've "levelled out" and am back into half-decent shape, I miss going shirtless in the summer. 


So so my question is this... Whether you're single or married (doesn't matter to me) do you find yourself feeling less-attractive? What have you done about it to help that go away?

These are the top 5 issues ostomates face:

1. Dating and relationships
2. Concealing the pouch
3. Foods to eat and avoid
4. Losing or gaining weight
5. Pouch ballooning

Check out this video from MeetAnOstoMate.
Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:51 pm

Hi GJ,  Yes, somedays I feel it more than other days - I tell myself that it is normal.   I am married and was during my illness.  It was my husband who convinced me to get the surgery and live.  So I did.  He is my personal....can you see my appliance through my clothes... consultant.  To make myself feel better, I've bought some items to help hide/dress up the pouch.  Wraps are good, thin support belts & high waisted undergarments.  OstomySecrets is a nice online alternative... the prices are a little pricey for me so I shop at Walmart.  I still act like a goof and make my husband laugh like I did prior to illness and surgery.  Now I have more comical material.  He thinks I am silly and I am most of the time.  If only the medical companies were to create a pouch less medical creative Coloplast, Hollister, Convatec and all of the others, a new color, design, fabric, whatever.   I can't imagine another pouch color being more costly.  All we have to choose from is opaque and clear... not much of a selection.  It would take matching clothes and picking out an outfit to a higher level.  Take care.  LH 

Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:15 am

Thanks for replying, LH!  


I manage age to get by wearing loose-fitting, sleeveless shirts with a snug undershirt underneath.... That seems to disguise the pouch and keep it hidden for me...


i just oust miss the days when shirtless was an option for going to the beach... As I don't feel comfortable doing that anymore with people staring. A speedo doesn't seem like a real option anymore either, lol!  

Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:10 pm

No more bikinis for me either...although I have not worn one for many, many years.  I saw several photos on this site of women wearing bikinis and they have the pouch out.  They look great.  If I am on the beach now I wear either shorts and a tank top or a tankini suit.   Good idea GJ wearing the t-shirt under the regular shirt.  You could probably wear the undershirt more snug by itself and it would look fine.  It someone were to ask you what is that, you could say a type of bandage.  Also, you could look for sleeveless shirts in different colors or maybe a print on the front.  I think we are the most critical of ourselves.... others really do not notice what we see because we know exactly where to look.  If I see any new summer items/ideas at Walmart, my go to store, I will pass it on.  Take care.  LH



Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:04 pm

Thanks, LH. 


I too, am a big fan of Wallymart, and most of my clothing comes from there... That way if I ruin a shirt with a leak, I'm out $5!  Lol. 


Its true that we are the hardest on ourselves... I guess I'm just having a few "ugly days" and will get out of this funk eventually. 

Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:48 pm

Ew Speedos...not an option, for me, to even look at on any guy.  Doesn't leave a lot to the imagination. Which, to me, is part of the allure - imagining.   Yes, running around naked (or even half naked) isn't exactly what it use to be.  Maybe if I lived by myself and hid all the mirrors. But even then I see this thing flapping around (or feel it on my leg).  So, yeah, I have many unattractive days.  But mostly I just try to ignore it and wear things that cover it up but still flatter me.    Maybe you could wear a higher wasted beach short ? (Don't know where your stoma is.)   I suppose if we all had hard bodies or kept ourself fit, like some of these pictures show, we'd look good no matter.  But I still wonder if the bikini clad women would still take those pics if their bag was filled up (and how do they keep it from filling up in the first place?)  And yes, I've seen some sexy shots of men too, but still the bag is flat.  You may also notice, most of them are wearing the little short ones. Not the ones we probably all wear on a regular basis.

I do agree with LadyHope.....WTH!  Can't you manufacturers come up with something a bit more appealing?  I kinda like the design a young man posted awhile back of a clear bag but gradually turned colors towards the bottom.  

Anyway, I'm sure you were hoping for some feedback from the gentlemen on this site too.  But honestly, Gear Jammer, none of us look as good as we did in our younger years, with or without the bag.  Just have to be a bit more creative. 



Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:08 am

Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:11 am

Any seamstress should be able to make this......the suspenders are the key.........for those men who wish to go

Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:54 pm are so right about the flat bag.  I don't mind a flat bag either but my ileostomy does not stay quiet for long.  Once and awhile I have a less productive day but it is usually because I skipped a meal.  I think we should campaign to the manufacturers and ask them to make better looking pouches/bags for us.  We wear them and know what would make us feel a little better.  In normal retail, there are so many choices.  Anything would be an improvement over opaque and clear.  I wish I knew something about manufacturing or someone who owned a company to make them for us.  I do not like pouch covers because they feel bulky to me.  Thanks for your posts...I always enjoy reading them.  Take care.  LH  

ps - Still shopping for a cool looking 50's style highwaisted bikini, similar to the one Maryann of Gilligan's Island wore - if anyone happens to see one in their shopping travels...please let me know. 

Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:55 pm

This is a neat suit.  Thanks for the post.

Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:57 pm

Interesting topic. At the very least, it managed to get me out of winter hibernation. The old adage, "Clothes make the man", will never go out of style except, perhaps, in a nudist community. I agree with others that ostomy pouches leave a lot to be desired and I will never understand why anyone would want to wear a clear bag if choices are available. Anyway, in response to this thread's initial question, I did not feel "less attractive" as a consequence of my permanent ileostomy five years ago.  Just the opposite. The reason for this may have something to do with age; but because of the surgery I lost excess weight and have easily managed to keep it off. (Without a colon, your system cannot absorb all the good nutrition or bad carbs you consume.) I quickly developed a more positive body image which then somehow led to more careful hygene and better dressing habits. My stoma is fortunately below my waistline so there has never been a problem wearing the same kind of clothes I always wore. I understand everyone's situation can be different, but this has been my experience which I am happy to share. Good question!


Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:40 pm

I too like the looks of WAB's contribution to the topic.  Something sexy about it.  After all, Madonna made wearing your underthings on the outside of your clothes  fashionable.   :)   And remember, ladies, when it was a catastrophe if your bra straps showed???

Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:43 am

Today everything shows and it is fashion....can't figure it out.  Am I getting old?  Ha ha ha... I may know the answer to that question.  Have a great day everyone.  Take care LH

Sun Apr 26, 2015 1:21 pm

Stealthbelt makes a belt that can be worn and doesn't look too bad. That have multiple designs and colors. They are a little pricey but you can file it on insurance 

Sun Apr 26, 2015 1:58 pm

What a great idea for any man with an appliance!  You should get a patent, quick!  Best of luck!


Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:08 pm

I have tried to write a long explaination about this but it keeps erasing it and this is hour 3 I have worked in trying to tell everyone about this. :-). I am a Crohn's patient and I have had an ileostomy, j-pouch, ileostomy and the I found the best thing ever, the BCIR procedure.  I had mine done in July 2014 and it was the best thing I ever did.  I can do anything physically I want.  I can wear anything I want including bikinis.  Nothing is external, everything is internal.  I only must cath about 3-4 times daily, that is it.  Nothing more required.  The only thing you can see is a very small round hole and I put a little dot band aid over mine.  It is called the BCIR procedure, done by Dr.  Rehnke at the Palms of Pasadena Hospital in Saint Petersburg, Florida.  Susan Kay is fabulous and she will help navigate you through everything.  If you would like info from someone who has actually done it, me or to learn abouty experiences with it feel free to email me at

Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:10 pm

Auto correct on my last post..  Uggghh!!  Lol..  

Past Member
Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:36 pm

Good reply, PB.  You always look very well put together in your photos.  Loretta

Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:17 am

Hi All,   I read  your post GJ earlier in the day, and had to think about how to respond to this.  

  I've had my ileostomy for 50 plus years ( from when I was 15),  buit it's never been the ostomy itself that made me uncomfortable about my appearance.  I was in a bathingsuit ( at age 16) the first summer after my surgery. 

   My loss of positive body image, happened from all the effects the steroids had on my body.   First I lost a lot of weight, and was wasting away ( 79) pounds.  Then came years of treatments with steroids....   I grew hair down the sides of my face, while losing the hair on my head ( 14 wasn't a good year for this teen).  Then they switched meds, and I blew up with about 50 pounds of fluids.  My skin turned a lovely shade of "red" , like perpetual sunburn, while I began to get stretch marks ( purple) on my legs. I looked like a red zebra, with purple stripes.  Insensitive people would ask, what happened to me, and I'd tell them that my mother beats me.   Today, that would get her put in jail.  

  Finally, when I developed osteoporosis, and degenerative disc disease, the doctors had to stop the meds.....and I began to bleed....actually hemorage, and so in Sept 0f 1963, I had an emergency ileostomy....went into shock on the table...and developed pneumonia.  I gather my life was touch and go for a  time, and when I woke up, about two weeks later, and looked in the mirror, I screamed.  I'd lost about 40 pounds ( of fluids)  and didn't recognize myself.  I know my body went through changes, but I couldn't see them, since I couldn't stand up without  the backbrace on....for almost a year. 

August of 1966, I was "recovered", was out of the back brace, was finally going back to school, but had to deal with the reality of what my "stretched out body looked like. I have stretch marks from my ankels.....up my legs, all over my belly  ( along with the major scars, and pulled together skin from the site of 2 hernia repairs.  I no longer had a waist.... and had so much flabby skin ( from the brace) on my lower back, that I was unable to get into a pair of pants.   

I was so glad to resume my normal life, that I didn't give any of it much thought....until I tried to get my stretched out "boobs" into a bra that fit me.   I was a 16 year old teen,  with breasts like an 80 year old woman "litterally " udders....that were empty.  Finding a bathingsuit that "fit" was more about finding one with enough support, that would also hold in the stretched out under arm skin.'ll relate to this....   A woman in a "foundation" store, asked me if I'd recently had a baby.   When I said no....she said, she had never seen breasts like mine on a teenager.   Needless to say, I ran out of the store...

So, through the years, did I sometimes feel unattractive...   Obviously yes.   Was I upset, sad, angry, all of those.   But even as a teen, I realized that the ostomy saved my life.   I did harbor some  anger towards my parents,  for chosing medical intervention, that destroyed my body, rather than have me go  through the surgery.   But eventually, I got over that....especially when my oldest son developed Ulcerative colitis, and went on the same roller coaster ride of medical intervention ( stretch marks and all).  Parents do the best they can......and my "job" was to live my life as fully as possilbe....because I was a walking talking miracle, and my two sons, born out of my disfigured body were truly a blessing.  

I learned to "do the best I could with what I have.   I never had the body for a bikini, but I do need to find a one piece that has enough tummy support,  to hold the ostomy pouch flat.   People, you have no idea how " small" these appliance are these days, compared to the ones I had to wear, way back when.  Today.....finding a suit with the bra support, is still more difficult than the finding one to support my flabby belly and pouch.  

For you men, with stomas placed near or above the waist....I really sympathize with you.   My ex husband also had an ileostomy ( that's how we met) and he was even more self conscious than I was.   But back in the's bathingsuits were more that heavy stretch fabric types, with wide wastebands.  He had a 1/2 a dozen of those that lasted him about 20 years.  I don't think they even make them anymore, and since we've been divorced 20 years, I don't know what he wore instead.      Frankly, I like those much more, since you could see more of the guy's  "butt", and even the "package" up front.  smile The  big baggy suits that have been in fashion for the last 20 years....don't really do much  for the male body.  ( Not everyone can or wants to wear a speedo).    Love the suspender suit that someone posted.   Just as the bra & bathing suit industry have adapted and now service woman with mastectomys, I think we need to make manufacturers aware of the needs of "ostomates".  There are more and more of them around the world....

I don't know how to  help others have a better body image.....but I do know that "clothing" covers up a lot.  Even though I'm quite overweight, I get a lot of compliments on the way I look and the way I dress ( for my size and shape).   I've learned to live with my imperfections....and now at 67 ( and dating) I'm probably less self conscious than I was in my younger days....    I hope this helps some of you....

Best regards..


Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:20 am

Thanks for your response, Marsha! It sounds like you had a real rollercoaster of a ride, that many of us can relate to!


its great to hear that you are dating again, and how comfortable you are with your body! I must be a little bipolar, because I go from feeling very ugly naked, to "if you can't look at me naked and keep your lunch down, that's YOUR problem!"


one thing that works well for me to hide my above-the-waistline equipment is a very tight fitting sleeveless undershirt!  Those that have seen me naked, with bag in full view, don't seem to comment much on the bag... My guess is they're focussed on something else?


as for bathing suits and swimming, a good surf-shirt keeps everything tucked in tight when worn with good swim shorts... nobody even notices the bag anymore...  But on a really hot day, sometimes you just want to wear a tiny little speedo banana-hammock! Lol. 

Past Member
Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:54 am

Hello, Bellabutterfly,  Got my BCIR in July, 1994.  Was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Had Brooke ileostomy for 9 years prior to BCIR.  Allergy to adhesives was a great problem.  Skin always weepy & could not keep wafer secure.  Use small patch from Austin Medical Products and a skin barrier, no problems at all. Like you, life began again!  Can exercise and anything else I want to.  Yes--can wear anything, I love clothes!!

Past Member
Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:01 am


Understatement,  my husband has been near me in 12 years, so yes, not only unattrative but self esteem at an all time low.

I have a great job, excellent salary, and have even started to go to the gym 4 times a week.  In all honesty i feel that if he has looked at me in any way shape or form in 12 years no matter what i do he isn't going to start now, if i had the strength to leave i would.

Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:52 pm
debs69 wrote:


Understatement,  my husband has been near me in 12 years, so yes, not only unattrative but self esteem at an all time low.

I have a great job, excellent salary, and have even started to go to the gym 4 times a week.  In all honesty i feel that if he has looked at me in any way shape or form in 12 years no matter what i do he isn't going to start now, if i had the strength to leave i would.

that is aweful to hear, Debs96!  I'm sure the problem lies with him... as most often it is the guys that don't feel like being intimate anymore... (even though I don't understand why.)

I will admit, I did go through a period where intimacy lost it's spark for me... but with a little coaxing from my wife it came back big-time! I hope things can turn around for you, because I'm sure you're not unattractive!  Perhaps you just need someone to make you smile again, and perk up his interest... ;)


Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:55 am


very interesting to see the different comments, I feel it is all in our heads........I am now 2yrs with a permanent stoma and i do not feel any different, my partner and I have a lot  of laughs and enjoy our time together,,,,there are times that I even foreget my situation and then my stoma will remind life to the fullest and enjoy being alive.

Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:50 am

I was thinking that something like this, crotchless, might be good in bed, but then I settled for just an elasticated support belt.

Past Member
Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:36 am

Hi, read your post today.  Had ileostomy for 9 years before getting the BCIR 21 years ago.  Still like to share my experience with anyone who is considering a BCIR.  Total Freedom, can exercise, wear nice clothes, etc.  So much more convenient to cath than to empty external pouch.  No problem using public restroom. Was also the  best thing that happened to me.  Was 53 years old when had this surgery at Lutheeran Medical Center in St Louis, Mo.

Wed Mar 02, 2016 2:05 pm

ASOS.COM.  several patterns to choose from

  I saw a young lady wearing one in Mexico and that's where she got it.  Cute little 50s styles like that are perfect for us.

Wed May 25, 2016 12:12 pm

Have just seen the comment from Debs69.

No-one should have to put up with such lack of attention in a relationship.

I am sure you could meet someone more appreciative in your gym, or anywhere for that matter.

I used to feel the same way, until my wife decided she wanted a divorce, (without mentioning she had started a relationship with her boss).

Speed-dating was the best thing I could ever had done.  I met many lovely women, who were all must more appreciative than my ex-wife ever was.    And not a single rejection!

Admittedly I did the opposite of most, hiding my bag under a belt and tee shirt hoping they wouldn't notice.  It worked!  At least they never asked about it until we had had several nights together, when I didn't need to explain that it need'nt be a problem, as they already knew.

I was very nervous at first, but the more success I had with new relationships, the more my confidence improved.  Now I can't believe I once thought my sex life was well and truly over when I got divorced - it had just started!

So Debs, my advice is to go for it. Leave your unappreciative husband and find someone else.  It will be easier than you think, believe me!   You have nothing to fear but fear itself.  To repeat an old US president (unless that was just in Annie).

Past Member
Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:41 pm

Mmmmm it all sounds so easy!!

i can't hurt my daughter, who is actually 19 or my elderly father.

i would feel selfish leaving for the sake of intimacy, sex.  It's been 15 years, what a few more? Ok I'm 45 maybe a canny few more!! I have a hand 😱😱😱

Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:54 am

I think we can all relate to this, as I've had similar feelings regarding wearing bikinis etc.

I just wrote a post about feelings of depression when it comes to the bag and being intimate with others, you can read it on my blog 

I hope your feelings are alleviated soon, as no one deserves to feel badly about their bodies.

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