Sexual Intimacy After Surgery: Seeking Experiences and Advice


There are several posts here about sex, so, I'm just adding another one. I've had my permanent ileostomy since 2015. I do not like it. I know that is surprising lol! But, it is what it is, and life goes on. After the surgery, I knew sex might be an issue. Maybe a bit physically, but, mostly mentally. To be honest, we were never one of those couples that had sex every day. But, we still had a good sex life. Ever since my ostomy, things have been different. I had body image issues before all of this, so, this only made things worse. When it comes to sex now, I am self-conscious about myself. My wife says she's okay with it and it doesn't bother her. She has been very supportive through this entire ordeal. But, I think it does bother her more than she is willing to admit. Lately, she seems very okay with just not having sex. I still have the want for sex, but, it's almost not worth the effort. At this point, it is easier for me to just masturbate to porn. I am curious if I am alone on any of this? Looking to hear from both sides of this... men and women, the person with an ostomy and the partners of. Feel free to post here or send a message if you feel more comfortable. I realize it's a bit of a sensitive subject. Thanks.


G'morning Bokowski, I'm just a regular, but it could very well be mental.. but you have a woman who loves you. Embrace that love and get past that hurdle because some marriages fall apart. It sounds as if you haven't accepted the new you, until you accept it the vibes will be sent to others which don't sound too good. I can't tell you when you will accept the stoma, but hold on to your wife!!! The mind is extremely powerful... Hope this helped!!!!


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I posted this some time ago and thought it was time to bring it to the top.

Some useful information from the Canadian Cancer Society. I hope the link works for you. The site would not let me paste the PDF file here. I would like to know if the link works and if you found the booklet useful.

NJ Bain


It's fantastic that your wife has been so supportive. Doubt can be a killer in a relationship, but I understand where you're coming from.

I had my surgery almost 22 years ago, and sex was never an issue with me. I've been told time and time again that I was blessed with a good surgeon because I rarely have issues with my ileostomy. I never had a problem with the ladies before the surgery, but right after the surgery, sex was the last thing on my mind. A few months after my surgery, I started dating again, and my ostomy was never an issue because I would tell any potential partner immediately about it. And there were always questions, which of course I was happy to answer. Like, will I hurt you? Or, will the bag pop and get shit on me? That kinda stuff.

After answering all of the inquiries, sex was not an issue. So my only advice is to talk to your wife. Just have a sit-down like 2 adults and talk about it. Explain your doubts and fears, and then have her do the same. Everyone has a warped body image, whether they're an ostomate or not. Now be prepared to hear things you may not want to hear. Find out if it's just the bag or something else because most married couples unknowingly let the flame die because they get stuck in their everyday routines. But you're not going to know unless you get it out in the open.

I mean, I don't know how long you've been married, if you have kids, if your sex life was spontaneous or if you planned it out or what. If it was just wham, bam, thank you ma'am or long passionate lovemaking sessions. Maybe it's time to rekindle the flame. Have a date night or do something like you did when you 2 first started dating.

But seriously, have a talk with her first. And do your best to be confident. Get a wrap to wear to get the ostomy out of the way and just focus on pleasing her. Go empty the bag first, walk up behind her, and whisper in her ear on how beautiful she is while you trace your fingertips from her shoulders down along the sides of her arms. And then walk away. This may or may not intrigue her, but at least you're making an effort.



All very well said, Bain!

And Xnine, the link did not take me to the article. :(

How to Manage Ostomy Leaks with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister

This has been an excellent discussion. I have mentioned this before, but here is an excellent book on this topic:

It's in the Bag and Under the Covers: Stories of Dating, Intimacy, Sex, and Caregiving About
People With Ostomies, by Brenda Elsagher. Andover, MN: Expert Publishing, 2011, 148 pages,


I really think you need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with your wife. If she says it doesn't bother her and she is being supportive, then it is worth maybe some counseling so you can work out your image issues. If you're constantly worried about it and not including her, then it might cause bigger issues in the long run. Your wife deserves to be respected. If you turn to porn to fulfill your need because you are uncomfortable, it is very selfish. Where do her needs fit in the equation? Watching porn is not realistic; it is fantasy, and I truly believe it is going to cause your marriage more issues because whether she expresses it or not, it will make her feel unwanted, not good enough, and that her needs and wants are not being met. When you married, it was for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part. If you truly meant that, then it is absolutely worth any trouble necessary to keep your marriage together and putting the other first. There were reasons you guys fell in love and got married. If it was for more than physical, then the surgery and the ileostomy should not change that. I hope this helps. I have a colostomy, so I know where you are coming from and it can be really hard, but if you and your wife are worth it, then it will work out. I am a counselor and would love to help if you'd like?




Since the link does not seem to work, try the long way

Go to the Canadian Cancer Society site: On the bottom left are Resource publications bring up that and it is about 40 down: Sexuality and Cancer. Download or view online.

Newbie Dana

There are issues for women, as well, especially if there is cancer and chemo and radiation involved. Physical changes to female sex organs from the radiation lead to painful sex. It's not easy, but there are treatments, and most important is having an understanding partner. As if the body image issues weren't enough, themselves! Now, along with self-confidence problems and body image issues, there is incontrovertible physical evidence that "I'm not the same as I was". The good news is, an imaginative and concerned partner can come up with ways around most problems and still lead to a fulfilling sex life, even if it's not the same as it was in the past. After all, even without the ostomy, none of us is as good as we used to be!


Sometimes, one's own mind creates doubts that we put onto other people... especially one's date, significant other, or spouse. I had my ileostomy done when I was 15, long before I began dating, and then had final surgery when I was 19. By then, I had dated some and developed some acceptance and self-esteem.

Having my ostomy wasn't the issue. The damage to my body image came more from all the stretch marks and scars left by the steroids and the surgery. I had a cute "little body" at 14 and was blown up with steroids at 15, deflated after surgery at 16, with a body that looked like I was 102 (literally and figuratively). My flabby belly and arms, and my stretched-out "boobs" made me very self-conscious. I married a man who also had an ileostomy, so that was never an issue, but it took me a long time to come to terms with what I called my "misshapen" body. Added to that was the aftermath of two pregnancies. I adored my two "miracle children" and came to a better acceptance of the damage to my body. At the time, I felt loved (by my husband) and by my children, so what I thought I looked like, and I do mean "thought," had less influence on my emotions. My ex and I had a good sex life until other issues began destroying our marriage. Eventually, I divorced, and dating again wasn't easy. The same anxieties about the way my body "looked" came back to haunt me. But I've been dating a really nice guy for the last 4 years, and my size (I gained a lot of weight), scars, and ostomy do not bother him at all. It upset him that I was self-conscious... so I really worked on trusting his feelings about me. I was more critical of myself than anyone could possibly be. I had to change that, and it's an ongoing challenge. Trust what your wife says, and more importantly... trust the way she acts. If she thinks that being sexual upsets you, then she might decide to back off. There is more to an intimate relationship than just "sex"... holding, touching, kissing, nurturing, talking, communicating likes, dislikes, fears are all important. Best of luck, Marsha


I had my surgery on April 1st, 2016, April Fools' Day... Ha!

My partner and I were sexually active before, then after, I started pulling away. He has been very understanding, but I have needs and my brain doesn't seem to want to get out of the way. I'm concerned that if we are sexually intimate, he might get disgusted and not want to touch me again.

Like Bukowski's wife, he says it doesn't matter, but it matters to me.

They say guys think about sex every 6 seconds, but I also think about Tommy, my colostomy, every 5. I feel as if I'm in a relationship with my ostomy and going to cheat with my boyfriend.



I'd love to blame my ostomy for the demise of my most recent relationship of 7 years, but it's always been something bigger than it. My underlying health issue (Crohn's) and the duration I've dealt with it (30 years) is really more of the problem. I realize others might be better at "keeping the flame alive," but after so many years with the same person, things change with both of you. Women hold themselves to a much higher standard of beauty, IMHO, so it doesn't take much being wrong with them for them to start being less interested in sex. Reassuring them they look great doesn't really help as it's ultimately an issue they need to overcome. That starts to make sexy time harder to find. You combine that with kids in the house, early work hours for one of you, early bed time, and then the effort to find time seems not worth it. As the person that isn't as healthy in the relationship (that's usually us), you don't always have the energy for sex. I seem to be the type of guy that always finds the more passive type of girl (likely keeps me from getting in trouble), so much of the energy put into the horizontal lambada has to come from me. My energy level then becomes a factor negatively affecting things. Next, you start watching that sexy young mother next door in her shorty shorts calling out your name as she crawls on the ground looking for a 5-leaf clover (as you told her they are really lucky), then the next thing you know, your hand and your lightsaber are making sweet love to each other, all with minimal effort. This then becomes the path of least resistance to the big O. Not that I am speaking from personal experience. :) Personally, I am cool with porn, but I prefer to watch live camera feeds of couples or solo ladies. Sure, I've clicked on a few transsexuals and dudes, but that was purely out of curiosity (I didn't believe the size of the one guy's third leg, but the live feed proved me wrong. I'm sure most women would be scared to see him coming or cumming). The tranny was more of a mistake (thought it was a straight couple as he/she looked female in the preview image.....great tuck job). I've made this all about me now.... which I guess is what self-pleasuring boils down to. :)

To get back on topic, I think the ostomy is just another external flaw on a canvas that was never flawless to start with. Most of us have many other parts we would like to change, as do our partners/past partners. If we were perfect, we would be sex machine models (wink wink, you know who I'm talking about). Sex would be great, but at this point in my life, I would be happy with someone who understands me and my issues and wants to be with me still. Me me me again. Damn me. :)

Well, it's 1:30 am and I am not getting any sleep with my fingers on the keyboard! LOL

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