So after doing the deed the other night I couldn’t help but lay there giggling. Luckily, it wasn’t a reflection on the sex which was, as always, very good, but I realised that between us me and Ste had ‘on’ two ostomy bags, a Peg-J tube and three heat pads.
I see many people on ostomy support groups siting relationships and sex as one of the most worrying aspects about their diagnosis or getting an ostomy. I want to tell you – DON’T!
I am not going to go too far into the relationship side of things, other than to say anyone worthy of your time and love should not and will not care if you have an ostomy. Prior to meeting Ste but post surgery, I was dating and I told a couple of guys I went on dates with about my bag. They were both very supportive and lovely about it. We didn’t get as far as the bedroom, but the fact they were willing to see a possible romantic future with me regardless, meant a lot. I think being upfront and honest from the start is important. Although not an easy subject to broach with a relative stranger, you will not be pursuing something and start developing feelings for someone who can’t handle it.
And there will be people who can’t handle it. I now get to see both sides of the relationship as someone with chronic illnesses and as a partner of someone with chronic illnesses. Believe me, however hard it is dealing with your own medical issues, watching your partner go through it is so, so difficult. I think people who are told early about someone’s medical conditions and decide they cannot, for their own reasons, begin to pursue a relationship, should not be vilified as long as they are kind and honest.
So, the bit you have all been waiting for… the sex! Well I am not going to say it is easy by any stretch of the imagination, but with the right person it really does not matter or interrupt proceedings at all. I don’t even notice my bag, or Ste’s when we are in bed. A couple of times we have had to adjust positions due to getting tied up with his PEG-J line but we generally just laugh about it and normally make a joke about tying each other up.
As a woman I have the general body worries – my ‘mum tum’, if I haven’t had chance to shave, my morning breath. My ostomy bag is pretty low down the list of worries when it comes to having sex. I am no expert but I have my own experiences to draw on and thought the easiest way of answering some of these which I see people asking about, would be to write a list. So here are my ‘top tips’ and I hope they help!
EMPTY YOUR BAG – I always empty mine before getting into bed anyway, but the last thing you want is a bulging sack of poo between the two of you while you are trying to feel sexy. Obviously, if the moment takes you by surprise you might not have had chance, but during the day you will be regularly emptying it for comfort anyway.
SELF – CONFIDENCE – This is probably one of the hardest things to master. Being body confident and feeling sexy with your bag may take some time but with the right partner and some time you will get there. In the mean time there are a couple of things you could use to help! First up – sexy underwear. The Jasmine Stacey Collection has been designed by an ostomate who knows what it is like and it is stunning! Some of the pieces are even crotchless, so you can keep your bag covered up while still enjoying yourself, if that makes you feel more comfortable. Jasmine designed the range as she was fed up of high waisted underwear which is perfect for ostomates, being boring, practical and unsexy.
Check out the Jasmine Stacey Collection website here
You could also try a bag cover. Ostomy bags can generally look a bit clinical, so why not cover it up with a pretty cover (if you are really good, you could colour co-ordinate to your underwear). I have previously bought covers from Stoma Style and can highly recommend them. Lisa is fantastic and can help design you something amazing – the link to her Facebook page is here. The lace heart bag cover design is a particularly good one for sexy time and there are lots of colours available.
FORGET ABOUT IT – This may sound easier said than done but when you are with your partner, you should be focusing on them, you and the moment, not worrying about other things. Enjoy the moment. Being intimate is all part of a healthy relationship and can definitely still be loved and enjoyed, even if you have an ostomy.
TAKE YOUR TIME – Don’t feel forced to rush into anything and make sure you take time to heal if your surgery has been recent. The last thing you want to do is cause further issues. Listen to your doctor’s advice for how long to wait post surgery and then only do it when you feel ready, you may need a little longer, There are plenty of things you can still do to be intimate in the mean time even if you don’t jump straight in with full sex straight away.
BE PROUD OF YOUR SCARS – There is a story to everyone’s scars. A journey you have been on. Be proud of them, proud of what you have battled through and your victory. Your partner may have been by your side during this battle and will be equally as proud as you are of them
EXPERIMENT – You may need to try different positions, especially at first while your body is still recovering from surgery. Any persistent or severe pain needs to be reported to your doctor though to be checked out. Having arthritis too, I have to be careful when my joints are bad but I am still able to enjoy a great sex life and so should everyone.
So I hope my list will have helped some of you. Given you ideas of things to try or just the knowledge that people with ostomies (as well as other health issues) still enjoy a happy, exciting and regular sex life, no matter what the circumstances!
Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below and I will try my best to answer them but please go forth and enjoy some sex today with less worries and hang ups!