Seeking advice on dating with an ileostomy

snuggles w/iliostomy
Apr 07, 2016 12:12 am

I want to know how to do the dating thing with an ileostomy. I am looking for someone who does not care if I have one. My husband left me last year after I had it for two years. I don't know how to go on from here. Any suggestions?

Apr 10, 2016 7:29 pm

Hi - I have an ileostomy too - for 8 years. I do not understand why so many people on this site say it's a major dating problem and that others don't want to date because of it. Nor do I understand all these marriages that break up over it - but I sincerely feel very bad for those who have suffered these relationship issues due to our surgeries. The surgery and diseases that resulted in them are enough to deal with, let alone non-supportive and/or judgmental people. A few things I've found to help:

1. First and most importantly - don't look for the "one night stand" or immediate hook-up types! Obviously that is going to leave you wide open to being hurt and rejected. And this is mostly because of "what they are" - sex - noncommittal and way too soon. So SLOW IT DOWN! If you take the time to really get to know the person BEFORE divulging your ostomy, chances are an interpersonal relationship will already exist and each will be more understanding of the other's "less than perfect" bodies. Now I know many of you disagree with this - you say it's not being honest and to let the person know right away before investing more time, etc. Well, I couldn't disagree more. I've NEVER had someone reject me because of my ostomy! And I've never told them until it was going to be obvious as physically things were progressing - weeks or more into the relationship. I've also told them via email (just me - but I find it easier and it also gives the person time to reflect on the information privately before responding). Just do what feels comfortable. But I've always given them an "out" by joking, "ok, you can run now" after telling them. And the "keepers" respond in kind - usually telling me some past experience or surgery or whatever they find not perfect with them and telling me I can run now too. :)

2. Keep your ostomy issues to yourself! Meaning, take care of your medical needs, be "normal", don't make them talk about it or point it out or be involved more than they need to be. Do you discuss your tooth cavities in depth? Making them feel it in your mouth? See it? Etc? Ok, obviously not! That's my point. Deal with it naturally and don't make a big deal out of it - they likely won't either.

3. As a woman, there are many things you can do to be sexy with an ostomy bag. Get a mini-bag. I use Hollister 2-piece because it's easy to change from mini to standard for "date night" to "overnights"! Early on, I eat very light that day so fewer bag changes/bathroom visits. You can even roll up a mini bag to smaller for an hour or two if you haven't eaten a lot prior - then after sexual activity, roll it down or change to a larger bag. Also, check out pretty bag covers! I love my lace covers that are custom made from Pouch Pals I also use two-way lingerie tape (available in lingerie departments and stores like Kohls) to adhere the covers snugly to my body. Again, quick and easy to change afterwards. Finally, I couldn't live without my odor-proof black disposal bags You can dispose of these bags easily wherever you are. Oh, and don't forget the sexy lingerie - try 2-piece cami sets or lingerie that hides the bag - you can find so many things - us women are lucky that way ;)

4. Don't use your ostomy as an "excuse" and don't wear it on your sleeve, so to say. By getting to know the person first and letting them get to know you, the relationship may or may not be right for one of you - if he leaves, maybe you weren't compatible! Don't be too quick to blame your ostomy. You mentioned your husband left you 2 years after your ostomy - but was the marriage strong before that? If so, did you continue to contribute to the relationship AFTER your surgery - and not become a "patient" for too long and let the relationship deteriorate? I have had Crohn's for 45 years so I certainly understand the pain of illness and what it's like to be chronically sick! But I live as a person, not a patient, no matter how I'm feeling. The point is - we may not have a choice why we needed this surgery - but we DO have a choice how we respond. You can let it overtake you and let it control your life - or YOU can control it and take charge of its direction in spite of the diseases or challenges life throws at you. If you tell yourself that, and live that way, people are more likely to respond to you in the same manner. And if they really are that much of a jerk that you have a great relationship but then bail after hearing you have a bag on your stomach - they are not a quality person that you want to fall head over heels with anyhow - they won't be the ones to be there when anything else goes wrong in life either - so why would you want someone like that next to you now?

None of these things are meant to be judgmental to anyone and if you totally disagree with these comments I respect that fully! But I have been reading this blog for so long and I just had to share. Dating life is not over with an ostomy unless you BELIEVE it is - that's my opinion and my reality for the past 8 years.

Best of luck - may you find someone special soon :)

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Apr 10, 2016 8:55 pm

Hi Snuggles, my best advice would be to live life. Learn to enjoy life to the fullest as a single mom and when you meet someone continue to be you. I don't usually lead off with the fact that I have an ostomy. Just like I don't walk into a room full of strangers and announce that I have an ostomy. If I get to know someone well then it might be a topic I bring up. Unless my ostomy decides to bring the subject up himself! lol

Good luck with everything and stay positive.

Snookis Mum
Apr 10, 2016 9:03 pm

What excellent advice Leanne! I think you covered everything, and very well too.

Apr 11, 2016 12:22 am

Just be yourself - the ileostomy pouch is no problem - fold it up and wear a lace or plain cotton cover -- I people get into their heads that other people this is something freaky. Just because it is a different format it is not a problem. It will be ever so natural once you are used to it ---

Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister
Apr 11, 2016 1:56 am

Hi Snuggles, I just had to respond also with encouragement and agreement with Leanne. I've had an ileostomy for 32 years and never in all those years have I EVER had a sexual problem or rejection from men due to my ostomy. That includes 2 husbands (I divorced them by the way) and many relationships. I always was the one to break it off with them. I didn't tell them about my ostomy until it became physical and then it was never an issue. I think it was all due to the way in which I handled it. I believe it's how you think and the ability to be a little creative. I never lost my sensuality just because of a stoma. There are many ways to wear sexy lingerie, for example, crotchless teddies worked great for me or just the tube top bands around the middle. I wear Convatec mini pouches for intimate times and like Leanne said, eat lightly or take something to slow the output down. That has been a challenge for me due to having such a short bowel but I have managed.

Nov 06, 2017 1:39 am


Your advice is right on the mark. I've had an ileostomy since I was 18- I'm 59 now. I did the same thing you did and never had issues with anyone.

The stories on this site often make me sad. Your post and others which followed were positive and reassuring.

Mike Q