How to Regain Confidence in Bed After Getting a Stoma
There's no doubt that ostomy surgery can be a lifesaving procedure. Even so, it's quite common for individuals to face struggles in their sex life due to body-image issues surrounding their stoma.
But that doesn't have to be the case.
When is a stoma necessary?
Let's first understand what stomas are, how they work and why people get them.
People may have ostomy surgery when, for whatever medical reason, their stool or urine needs to be rerouted out of the body through the abdomen instead of via the normal channels. Such a necessity can be due to birth defects, rectal or colon cancer, bladder cancer, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, severe abdominal or pelvic trauma, and more.
So what does a stoma look like? It looks like a dark-pink piece of flesh, which makes sense, since it is usually created from the end of the intestine. The stoma is sewn to an opening created in the abdomen, and it allows feces and/or urine to leave the body. For some people, the stoma is fairly flat, and for others, it may protrude just a bit.
An ostomy bag is then placed over the stoma and held in place with adhesive, to collect bodily waste. The person who wears the ostomy bag needs to change and clean it regularly.
Sex after getting a stoma
Adapting to daily life in your new body as you adjust to ostomy surgery may take some time. Sex will likely be another hurdle entirely, especially when it comes to confidence and self-image.
Here are five simple steps to make the process smoother and help you regain and maintain your confidence in bed after getting a stoma.
One of the most important actions you can take while adjusting to your new stoma is to communicate. First and most important, be kind to yourself as you get used to this new part of your body. If you find that you need some help, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about getting support. Going through counseling after ostomy surgery is normal and can be quite beneficial.
Also, talk to your partner, who might be scared in the beginning and worry about accidentally hurting your stoma during sex. Explain what works for you and what doesn't. Since stomas don't have nerve endings, most people find that they don't have to adjust the way they have sex at all. Share your feelings and any possible insecurities. Leaning on your support system will be very helpful along your journey to feeling comfortable in your own skin.
2. Dress up your ostomy bag
If your transparent ostomy bag makes you self-conscious during sex, many solutions are available. Ostomy covers can be purchased online, and they come in different colors and designs. If you plan to wear sexy lingerie, you can even get a cover that matches it.
3. Get an ostomy belt to avoid chafing
Another great accessory is an ostomy belt, which comes in handy if you and your partner don't like the feeling of the ostomy bag rubbing against your skin during sex. The belt covers the bag with a comfortable fabric and holds it close to your abdomen. That way you don't have to worry about it moving around too much.
4. Clean your bag first
Some people may be self-conscious about having sex with a full ostomy bag or fear it will leak. For your own peace of mind, take a few minutes to clean your bag before the action gets going in the bedroom. Then you can go into your rendezvous more relaxed and focused.
5. Mind the food you eat ahead of time
If your ostomy bag was installed to collect stool, you've probably noticed that when you eat foods that make you gassy, the gas is released through your stoma as well. Of course, hearing this gas or even seeing your ostomy bag inflate a bit when it's released is normal. But, if you'd rather avoid a gassy stoma during love-making, avoid eating foods beforehand that tend to give you gas.
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that getting a stoma doesn't change who you are. It might take a little time, effort and support, but you can undoubtedly continue to have an active and fulfilling sex life after ostomy surgery.