TRUTH: This is a fairy tale. Relationships are like tides; sometimes they’re up and sometimes they’re down. Adjustments can be made to keep the joy of sex alive, but sex alone doesn’t make a relationship secure.
Yes, people with ostomies do find intimacy and have active sexual lives after recovering from surgery. Surgery type and emotional confidence factor in sexual health.
Sexual problems may emerge after surgery beyond any physical challenges. Emotional issues may include embracing your new body image. Having confidence in a pouching system fit can also be critical. Tips and adjustments can help put your mind at ease. Our guide can help you and your partner in these intimate matters.
This Guide is also available in Spanish:
Sex and Stomas: Myths and Truths
TRUTH: Regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity, giving and receiving pleasure can be expressed in many ways-hugging, kissing, cuddling, holding hands, masturbation, oral sex, stimulation with the hands, and even sleeping in the same bed.
TRUTH: Unless your partner has extrasensory perception (ESP), they can’t read your mind. Tell your partner what you like, what you don’t like.
TRUTH: People with stomas can and do get pregnant and have healthy babies. It is important, however, to be followed by healthcare professionals throughout the pregnancy.
TRUTH: It’s reasonable to feel this way. People who’ve lost a breast to cancer or lost a limb feel this way too. Your attitude and how you treat yourself sets the tone on how others treat you. If you feel comfortable and accepting of your new body, your partner is likely to do the same.
TRUTH: If there’s no erection the first time you try after surgery, don’t convince yourself this is the way it’s going to be. Rest. Relax. Regain your strength and try again. If the problem persists, talk to your doctor.
TRUTH: It is possible to have an orgasm without ejaculating (a dry orgasm).
TRUTH: Cancer isn’t spread through sexual contact. However, ‘safe sex’ should be used to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
TRUTH: Deodorizers especially designed for use with an ostomy are available to help reduce odors from stool and urine. Some are used in the pouch and some are taken by mouth. Modern pouches are made of odor free materials. To remain fresh, keep your body and pouching system clean.
TRUTH: Close body contact and movement during sex won’t hurt your stoma. However, nothing (fingers, objects) should be put into the stoma. A stoma is not a sexual organ.
TRUTH: Ha! Many seniors, including ones with an ostomy, are sexually active.
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United Ostomy Associations of America
P.O. Box 2293
Biddeford, ME 04005-2293
Call us toll-free at: 1-800-826-0826.
Our Information Line hours are Monday-Friday, 9am to 3pm EST. If you have an emergency, please dial 911 or contact your local medical professional.
Please understand that UOAA is a private, nonprofit, advocacy and informational organization. We are not a medical facility and we do not have medical or legal professionals on staff. Therefore, UOAA does not provide Medical, Mental Health, Insurance or Legal Advice.
UOAA is the leading organization proactively advocating on behalf of the ostomy community. Recognizing that we are always stronger together, we encourage everyone to get involved by joining our Advocacy Network. We’ve also created several Advocacy Tools and Resources to help you successfully advocate on behalf of the ostomy community to ensure every ostomate receives quality care.