Reconnecting with my husband after ostomy surgery - need advice!


Here we go, all this is something new to me, so please be patient with me. I've had ostomy surgery almost a year ago. But since my surgery, my husband doesn't touch me. We haven't had any sex, no affectionate. I make sure I keep my bag clean at all times so he doesn't smell it. I wear sexy clothes, etc. Before my surgery, we were very sexual!! Can someone please tell me what do I need to do to let him know that I'm still the same person, just with an ostomy bag?

NJ Bain


It's a tough call. Even if a loved one was going through the process with you, they still may not know everything. There are so many variables here. He may be afraid he's going to hurt you. Or it's possible that he may not feel the same way about you. It's a harsh truth, but it's realistic. Your best option is to talk to him. Get everything out on the table. Communication is key. This may be a painful process, but it has to be done.

I know the vows say in sickness and in health, but some people can't handle it when they are actually confronted with it. If he's worth his weight in salt, he will come around. But you have to find out what's going on in his head. Talk to him.

I wish I had better words of encouragement. I wish you the best.


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I do not know, but what would perk my interest is if you would touch yourself. Let him know your parts still work. I think you might have to be more aggressive. Pull his pants off and spank his butt. That should get his attention.

I am on the other end where my wife has regulated me to once a week if I want it or not.

Please do not be offended. I am trying to be straightforward.


Hello Brian, I thank you so much for your help. I really needed to hear that. I've tried communicating with him. I have cried and talked to him about it, telling him how I felt and everything, and he'll say, "I'm going to do better. I'm going to do better," but nothing ever changes. Nothing. But one day, I was looking through his phone to get a phone number, and the first thing I see is he's on p*** sites. So, I don't know what to do!! I'm kind of stuck. We don't communicate anymore. We don't do anything!! This ostomy bag has changed my life. I hate this bag. I really do!!


Hello xnine, I thank you but I've tried it all. He now sleeps in the guest bedroom or on the couch!! I've had my ostomy nurse and doctor talk with him. I've suggested counseling... This ostomy bag has really changed my life for the worse. I've lost my husband sexually! He still does everything else but no sex, no affection, no kissing, or etc!!

How to Manage Ostomy Leaks with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
ron in mich

Hi, finally ready to do some grilling, burgers, and lots of beers or drinks and slowly work around to the subject. Maybe he will let on what's bothering him.


Hey Ron in Michigan, we BBQ on the norm basically every weekend, so I've talked to him. He keeps telling me he's gonna do better. But when the time comes, it never happens. Never. This has been going on for almost a year. I'm trying to stay prayerful and hopeful, but it hurts that your spouse doesn't look at you the same. I've told him, "Baby, you're not gonna hurt me. It will be okay." Still, nothing!!


Write something on your bag, like "do me" or something similar. Sorry to say, you are not the only one that is going through this. The story is the same and usually the man. The only other thing I can think of is porn you could watch together.


This may help. Look at About Us at the bottom and select Resource Publications. The publication Sex, Intimacy and Cancer is about 47 publications down. Hope you find it helpful.

NJ Bain


I wish I had something wiser to say. But I don't. Your ostomy is a part of you now. It's what has allowed you to live. The fact that your husband can't see the gift before him makes me sad for you both.

If he can't see the miracle in front of him, maybe it wasn't meant to be. A friend once told me about the blind theory. That if one lost sight, it truly gives you the ability to see through the BS and know a person on such an intimate level. Beauty is only skin deep. If your man does not see the beauty in you, or the fact that you are alive because of your ostomy, then he is not worth being your husband.

The fact that you found incriminating things on his phone proves 2 things. One, he is looking at sites showing women's private parts. I don't know if they are dating or hookup sites or what. Two, you no longer trust him. For if you trusted him, you wouldn't have touched his phone. Again, it's a tough call.

You have to do right by you and your children. It's hard on a spouse to accept the new you. But if love truly endures all, he would have no issue with your ostomy. He may be afraid, he may say he'll do better. But it's been a year. And if he hasn't come around, you may have a harsh reality coming. If he's sleeping in the guest room, either he's terrified, doesn't know how to deal, or he wants to be with someone without a bag because he is ignorant that you are the same woman he fell in love with.

I don't say this lightly. I wish I could wave a wand and all would be perfect. But the real world is cruel. We live this life the best way we can. And there are so many people that are so much worse off than we are and we take so much for granted. If your man continues to give you the runaround, you may have to consider the fact that this change is not the best for both of you.

I'm a realist FR, and I don't deal with BS. When I was planning the surgery, my gf at the time wasn't sure how she'd feel about me afterward. And I understood. But we had 11 wonderful years together. 3 years before surgery and 8 years after. We both realized that we weren't meant to be as we got older, and moved on. I pray and hope you can work it out with him, but the realist in me says it's time to move on. You and yours are in my prayers. I pray you find a solution.

All my hope,



Hi Finally Ready....I'm sorry for all you're going through. My name is Marsha, and I've had my surgery since I was 15...that's 50 years ago. I married a man who also had an ileostomy, so that was never the issue. But when I became pregnant with our first child, he was afraid of "hurting the baby', and so he avoided intimacy and sex with me for weeks after we found out I was pregnant. And then even more so when I started to show. I had a really serious talk with him....telling him that I was okay with sex, and the doctor said it was if this marriage was going to continue...he had to be accepting... 9 months is a long time to not be intimate. It wasn't easy for him.....and he remained hesitant, but he got over the "fear" if that was it. We didn't have the same issue again when I had baby #2. You've gotten a lot of advice from people on the site, but perhaps you both need professional help. He needs to face what you've been through and realize that rejecting you is hurtful to you and your marriage. You can suggest a romantic make-out session, just you and kids around, and not try for intercourse.....just holding, hugging, kissing, to see if he can handle you "'dressed" in romantic night clothes. If the sight of the pouch is a turn-off (get him to admit it), some people are able to find "tube" tops or cover-ups....or pouch covers that hide the pouch and what's inside. I've dated men for whom my ostomy didn't matter, while others walked out of the room when I told them what I had (in my pants) never to return. was their loss. If you feel you've tried all you could....and still are not making progress....let him know that you can't go on living this way.......if that's what you really want. Perhaps the fear of losing you and his family might make him face reality....WE all wish you the best of luck.. Marsha


It's a major change having an ostomy mentally and physically. In a perfect world, we would love to believe our loved ones will understand and accept us, but truthfully it's not always the case. Just remember your value!!!!!


Leave his ass!! If he loves you, he would work through it!!!

Past Member

Great conversation tonight. I, myself, had a male friend (just friends) for 5 years. Years ago, he was very interested in becoming more. It started at that time when I was helping a very sick friend get through lung cancer. He eventually passed. In time, I became sick with rectal cancer. I hadn't really talked to him for a while. I did eventually tell him why I've been out of the loop for a while. He completely did a 180-degree turn around. His true colors finally came out. He dropped me after I told him. It goes to show the true person. I'm still Linda, still funny. I'm thankful every day I'm alive. I'm lucky, I've had no issues with my ostomy, none. At times, I forget I have her (Stella). I know the right guy is out there. I'm a better person for being so blessed to live. Hang in there.. Please. So, I'm not sure how long to give your husband.. We all need to be loved. God bless.


Hi, this sounds like it is his problem. You are more than willing. An ostomy shouldn't change anything. Maybe he should talk to the doctor himself and get advice. But communication between you is very important. Ask him what the problem really is.


Have you sat quietly and asked God to help you figure out the answer? I left my spouse in June of this year due partly to this issue. I had my surgery the first time in July of 2017. I was eating supper that my spouse cooked for me and within 15 to 30 minutes, I was sick as a dog! I waited, hoping that the pain would stop, but it got worse. I was rushed to the hospital and into emergency surgery where I lost all of my lower bowel. It died in less than 24 hours!! I had been married for almost 12 years and hadn't had marital relations for 10 years. His excuse was that he was not interested. For the last 5 years, I have been praying to God about what to do. I was healthy and everything worked just fine. I wasn't ready to give sex up. I had talked to him numerous times about this and begged him to go to the doctor to get help and answers. When he finally did go, the doctor said it was an easy fix as his testosterone levels were barely registering. Just a simple shot, every 90 days. He refused. Then when I got sick the first time in 2017, I began to believe he tried to kill me. It is hard to get that out of your head once you think this way. 12 days prior to getting sick, I broke my foot while at a doctor appointment at the VA hospital in Salt Lake City. I fell over a piece of broken concrete on the sidewalk one block away from my hotel after walking back from supper the night before. I ended up having to cancel my flight back to Billings and stay at the hospital where I underwent surgery to put a screw in my foot. I was ordered to not bear weight on it for 90 days. So because of this, my husband had to drive to Salt Lake City VA hospital and pick me up. So here I was, 12 days later, cut from stem to stern, stapled and fitted with an ileostomy bag. Frankly, I was a mess and something did not go right with the first stoma surgery so for the next 7 months, I was in sheer pain and could hardly eat a thing. I lost over 30 pounds before the doctor diagnosed me with a stricture and I was again rushed into surgery. The doctor said that I had the worst stricture he had ever seen in his career! Plus, I had numerous adhesions that he had to cut away. By this time, I hardly saw my husband. He pretty much stayed up in his office where he could smoke because I didn't allow him to smoke any place else in the house plus it was bad for my healing. When we married, he did not put me on any property. When he purchased a new cabin after his other one burned down in 2012, my name was no place on the deed. However, he expected me to assist in the remodeling of the cabin. He expected me to cook, clean, and help with painting and cleaning of his apartments that he owned and rented out. But through all of this, there were no arrangements made for me if he was to pass away. If he were to die, I would have to move out of his house immediately. There was no Life Estate of any kind, and I wasn't even listed in his will. He even expected me to pay him for the use of the garage where I stored my things that were in my house, that I sold, to move into HIS house. I know this is a lot to digest, but bear with me as I get to the point. I started to realize that I was not a wife but a roommate. He was just using me for cheaper taxes and a housemaid. Prior to breaking my foot in June 2017, maybe around March 2017, I gave him 60 days to find and set up an appointment with a counselor so we could get help for our failing marriage. If he did not find someone before June 1st, I would be getting an apartment and moving out. He waited until day 59 before securing a counselor. We started counseling and things started to get a little better, but every time we left counseling, I felt incredibly sad. We continued to go until I had my throat surgery on June 7th at the Salt Lake VA hospital. Then, I went back for my checkup on June 26th. The night before that is when I fell and broke my foot. We made two more counseling appointments before I got sick on 12 July and had my 2nd ileostomy surgery. I couldn't go to counseling for a few weeks, so my husband went on his own for a while. In October, the counselor told us she would be moving out into her own practice in December. She also let us know that she would be going out on maternity leave in February. She called us in late December and said that she was having difficulty getting the Medicare up and running but would see us pro bono on one appointment in January. We saw her once more, and then everything stopped. Everything went back to the way it was before we even started very quickly. Finally, in late April, we had a considerable argument and he proceeded to get up into my face and call me some horrible names. I had been enduring these fits of rage on his part shortly after we got married. I had never seen this abusive behavior during the 5 years we dated prior to marriage. After the horrible name-calling, I stayed up all night, pacing, praying, begging God for an answer to my horrible life. The next morning, at 7:00, God answered me. He told me to move out to my own place, but I was not to divorce. I was to give my husband one year, and if he had not made the needed changes by then, I was to divorce. I moved out in June. My husband didn't really think I would do it, but when I got my apartment keys on June 1st, he finally realized I was serious. So maybe it would help you to talk with God and ask Him what to do. It took over 5 years of prayer and talking to God before I got my answer. You have to work on His timeline, so it may be a while, but He will tell you what to do. It may be your husband who no longer wishes to dwell with you. If this is the situation, it is not your fault at all, especially if he will not have martial relations with you. So it may not have anything to do with your surgery. You have to take care of yourself, so deciding what you want is very important now. Listen to God, and you will receive your answer. When you receive it, follow through so your husband will realize you are serious. Good luck to you.


Hi all.... Ladies and gents... I have had my ostomy for 55 years now, since I was a kid of 15. Dating the first time around was a challenge, but the mores and morals were a bit different then. But if I really like a guy... I told him about the surgery. If he had a problem with it and walked away.... I accepted it. My ostomy is my badge of survival, and it's what allowed me to get my life back. Eventually, I met and married (a guy with an ostomy), but that didn't make us a perfect match. We stayed together 24 1/2 years until our differences finally made us end the marriage. I've been dating again.... for 25 years... and it's the same now as it was then. For some men, it's absolutely not an issue, and for others it is. When I told one guy (we were out on a date), he got up from the table and just left. Others were nice about it.... but it didn't "work" for them. The man I'm seeing now (for almost 5 years) has no issue with the ostomy or pouch at all. Personally, I think most men decide "what they want/who they want" before they even meet you. The unknown or unusual scare others away. Such is life... Personally, I have more of an issue with my own weight (plus-sized gal here) than my ostomy. I think "many" men look the other way when they see a big gal. Again, such is life. "Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder". Best of luck to you KathyMac.... you've been through a horrific time, but you knew there was a problem, confronted the doctor, and you will get through the "managing the ostomy" phase as well. If you want to chat... please feel free to write.. I had a lot of unresolved anger at my parents and with my doctors for the way they handled things when I was sick. When I had my final surgery (removal of my rectum), the "doctor" cut the nerves to my bladder.... and it didn't function for nearly 3 months. When it finally did.... I had "no sensation". So, I pee by the clock.... It was only years later that I heard about the mishaps others had been through... "Sh-t happens".


I have seen some different websites that sell pretty covers for your pouch. I've even seen some on eBay. Or, if you sew, you could make something of your own design. Just Google up "ostomy covers" or some close variation of that.

He might be kind of turned off by the clinical appearance of the pouch. You probably already know, they have clear ones, kind of cloudy ones, and ones you can't see into.

There are also sites out there that sell the prettiest underwear.

You need to get a little something, even if it just makes you feel prettier. If you feel better about yourself, it could bring him around.

Good luck and good health to you!


Hi FinallyReady. So sorry to learn you're going through this. However, it seems to me the issue has nothing to do with you or the stoma. Your husband has issues that would have surfaced eventually no matter what. Do what's best for you! All the best - Silveradokid.


Hmmm... Just a thought, maybe you need a new approach, besides looking good for him maybe you need to seduce your husband. Show him you are still the same person you were before your surgery and you can meet the challenge and more.

Buy a wrap to cover your pouch and to keep it secure and put on an exciting outfit for him and show him how much you want him.

Real me

After my ostomy, my husband did not touch me. We were very sexual before. After 3 years without sex and a lot of talks, we very slowly are recovering our sexual life. But you have to be very patient. He told me that he was afraid of hurting me and a lot of more excuses. I thought about divorce! But finally, we decided that our love was more than an illness and that we still love each other. It was very difficult, but now I think we are out of the tunnel!


I am sorry to read about your situation.

I disagree with all the suggestions of "hey make yourself sexy. Wear sexy clothes." You do all of this and still get rejected by him, you may start the slide down the depression slope.

You should not change yourself. He has the issue. It sucks. He needs help. He needs counseling.



Hi Finallyready. I know you would love to hear an answer that will soothe your despair, but unfortunately, there is none. There is no single way of doing things. It has been almost 3 years for me, and I am still learning. As mentioned earlier, communication is key. In my case, my wife and I are in our late 60s, so intimacy is not all that important, and just for the record, it was me not my wife that called it quits. (Through a mutual agreement) We had a healthy relationship (sexual) for 43 years, so maybe that is why it doesn't bother us. There is nobody that is qualified to give advice, we just give our opinion and just rant. LOL. I hope that things work out for you. Talking with your mate is key. Good luck.


I have had my ostomy for 2 years now and I am a single mom, but I have been seeing a guy before I had this and even when I had this done he stood by me. But he was afraid to touch me as he thought he would hurt me. But I sit and explain everything to him. I even show him how things work and our sex life was back to normal. It never bothered him at all... so you might want to try and let him see how things work, tell him about it, and make sure to let him know that you are still the same woman, just with an ostomy. And trust me, it does not get in the way... I wish you all the best as this is something hard to get used to but please do not give up, just keep on trying... take care... Baygal xx


I think you need to put your cards on the table and talk to your husband about this issue. If this seems like a bad idea to you, then perhaps with a counselor to facilitate. The longer you wait, the more serious and destructive this issue will become.

Mike Q

Past Member

One year is enough. It is one year wasted that you could have been happy with someone else. Even being alone and not in a relationship is a better choice. Before you know it, one year will be three years, three years will be 10 years. Please move on, time is ticking. It is easier to find a new relationship when you are younger, stronger, and healthier (especially for women). Please don't put off the inevitable. This constant rejection can hurt your self-esteem. You deserve better!

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