Intimacy with a Stoma

Although it’s normal to feel sensitive about how a stoma changes your body, meaningful and fulfilling intimate encounters can still be part of your and your partner’s lives.

Communication and trust are at the heart of the healing process. It’s comforting to know that sexual relations will not hurt your stoma—or you. It's also important to remember that when it comes to reintroducing intimacy after stoma surgery, there's no rush. It can take time to get used to new routines after your surgery, so introduce intimacy when you feel ready.

With time and a positive attitude, you can enjoy a mutually satisfying sexual relationship. Share your feelings with your partner, and respond to his or her concerns as well. 

Tips to enhance intimacy after stoma surgery

Trust is key to true intimacy

The more you share about your stoma, how you feel, and what you need, the stronger the bond between you and your partner.

Accepting yourself

The way you see yourself influences the way others see you Take time after surgery to acknowledge the changes your body has been through, check in with your emotions about how you feel post-surgery, and share your feelings with your partner. You’ll find that acceptance of your body after surgery comes with time.

A stoma does not have nerve endings

Therefore, it does not transmit pain or other sensations, but it can bleed slightly if irritated or rubbed. Trying different positions can help you avoid any issues. The side-by-side position often works well for people living with a stoma because the pouch will fall to your side and not come between you and your partner.

Empty your pouch before engaging in sex

You can also try wearing a small pouch. For intimate moments, special pouches are available that are designed to be smaller and less bulky.

Underwear, lingerie and pouch covers

If your stoma makes you uneasy during intimate moments, Undergarments or intimacy wraps can help take your mind off your stoma and allow you to focus on your partner.

Intimacy Tips For Women

  • If you use the pill, you may need to change your birth control—particularly if you’ve had an ileostomy. Oral contraceptives are often not absorbed with a shorter small intestine. Talk to your doctor or stoma nurse about the best form of birth control for you.
  • After surgery, many women experience vaginal dryness. Try a lubricant, or ask your doctor about other options to treat vaginal dryness.

Intimacy Tips For Men

  • Some men may experience erectile dysfunction symptoms (i.e., achieving/sustaining an erection or inability to ejaculate) the first time they are intimate following surgery. Don’t worry or panic! This can often occur—it may be related to the surgery itself or to worries/concerns over being intimate post-surgery. If you experience continued problems maintaining an erection, call your healthcare provider. Most likely, there is a solution.


Intimacy is for everyone.

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