I’ve read plenty of articles with people describing moments of intimacy with a partner who, at some point during their relationship, had a stoma created. Not many articles however relate to intimacy between couples who both had a stoma created before their relationship started.
As I fall into that last category I thought therefore that it may be an idea and possibly helpful to some to add my own perspective on this.
My partner and I are both Ostomists – I’ve had mine almost 11 years, whilst my partner is coming up on three years. Neither of us knew each other prior to the creation of our stomas.
We both have a wicked sense of humour, and neither of us are embarrassed in any way by having a stoma. Many a pleasant evening has been spent listening to noises coming from the stoma – noises which let’s face, it are impossible to prevent. Some people may cringe, but we simply laugh at it, which always helps to diffuse any issues.
Maybe the fact we are both so comfortable with having a stoma helps - It’s important to note that we don’t take any notice of each other’s stoma pouches – yes, we know they are there, we just don’t see them. I can still remember the first time we saw each other’s stoma’s without any coverings … neither of us batted an eyelid, although I appreciate that may not be to everyone’s liking.
So what suggestions can I make?
Firstly, be comfortable with your body. We all have a stoma which was created for a reason – mine saved my life, and as such, I’ll always be grateful for its existence. Therefore, I’m not prepared to hide it away. Your partner should (in my opinion) love you for who you are. Just because I have a small part of my intestine on the outside of my body should not stop your partner seeing you any differently.
A level of obvious common sense is required though, so I’ve created this month’s blog discussing some possible pitfalls and suggestions.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note some obvious differences in Stoma’s. I have an Ileostomy, whilst my partner has a Colostomy. An ileostomy is created on the right side of your body, and a colostomy is formed on the left. An Ileostomy creates liquid stools (and thus requires emptying several times a day), a Colostomy can produce solid stools (and therefore does not need emptying as often)
It may not be the most romantic thing to say “I’m just off to empty” before you get to bed, but for an Ileostomist, its essential – the blessed pouch can fill at an alarming rate, and the last thing you will need is a full bag.
Depending on the sexual position you use, both stoma bags may touch or rub against each other. This does not create a problem (if empty), but is there any way you can avoid this?
The last point is essential. It takes a special person to understand that you may have to break off from what you are doing to “empty out”.
One comment worth noting, is that two new stoma pouches can rustle loudly, and can either sound like crepe paper, or a bag of crisps being scrunched up – Therefore, a sense of humour is essential.
Neither of us wear nightwear to bed, so accidental “touches” of a stoma pouch is inevitable during hugs. It doesn’t bother either of us, and nor should it.
In the past I have been concerned and worried about having a leak during making love – let’s face it, all that banging around doesn’t do the bag any good! – But both of us have accepted that if it’s going to happen, it will, and nothing you can do will prevent it. Let’s face it, individuals can be showered and bedsheets washed, so it’s hardly a problem.
Having a partner who also has an Ostomy can be a wonderful thing. In my partner, I have not only met a wonderful person, but also someone who has gone through the same trials and tribulations that I have, but also shares the same mentality relating to accidents, noises, smells and general day to day living with a stoma. That makes not just for a high level of intimacy, but also day to day living in general.
Having a stoma should not detract anyone from having a loving, caring and an intimate level of trust that may have existed prior to the creation of a stoma.
Relax, enjoy, and don’t be embarrassed!