SecuriCare and Colostomy UK (link to www.colostomyuk.org) have teamed up to bring you our ‘Stoma Care Nurse Says’ blog series. In this series, SecuriCare’s Stoma Care Nurses will be giving you specialist advice about caring for your stoma.
In this blog, a ‘Stoma Care Nurse Says: Let’s Talk About Sex And Relationships’…
It may take some time for patients to adjust both physically and psychologically after stoma formation surgery but it’s important to remember that this is normal and help is available.
Everyone is individual so please do not suffer in silence.
Don't let fear or embarrassment prevent you from seeking support and advice from your Stoma Care Nurse. Whether you’re attending virtual or face-to-face appointments, you’re Stoma Care Nurse will be able to discuss any concerns you may have about your sexual function and/or relationships.
Both men and women can experience changes in how they see themselves and it may take some time to adjust to what may feel like a changed body image. Stoma surgery may also impact a patient’s lifestyle in the short-term, but with the correct care, many people return to all of their normal activities in the months after stoma surgery.
Changes caused by stoma surgery can influence personal relationships, and it’s something we need to talk openly about.
Whether you are young or old, single or married, in a heterosexual or same sex relationship; having a stoma can affect your interest, desire, and ability to have a sexual and/or intimate relationship. Many people can find it difficult to talk about intimacy and sexual relationships, especially with their Stoma Care Nurse, which can leave many questions unanswered and if not addressed, this can impact on relationships in the longer term.
Any change in body image can affect how you feel about yourself and how you think that others see you.
This is perfectly normal, and each person can be affected differently at different stages in their stoma journey. Depending on the surgery you have, and the reason for having it, you may or may not have time to think about how it will affect the side of your life that includes intimate relationships. For those who have planned or elective surgery, before your operation you might feel with the impending surgery and diagnosis that sexual activity is the last thing on your mind.
When you undergo extensive surgery your clinical team will explain the nature of the procedure you are having. They will tell you about how it may affect your sexual activity after surgery, sometimes you may feel overwhelmed at the amount of information and be unable to take it all in. Go to appointments prepared with a notebook and don't be afraid to ask your consultant to repeat information.
In female patients, nerves in the pelvic area may be damaged and any vaginal reconstruction due to tumour invasion (only relevant to certain cases) may lead to loss of desire, vaginal dryness, arousal and alteration of orgasm, along with pain of intercourse.
In male patients, nerves in the pelvic area may be damaged which can lead to loss of desire and loss of sensation. The removal of the prostate gland may lead to impotence, which is sometimes known as erectile dysfunction. Low testosterone levels could also be a possible cause of erectile dysfunction, if you’re worried about this, please speak with your GP or surgeon who can arrange a blood test to determine the cause.
It is advisable to allow at least 4-6 weeks to recover from abdominal surgery, and this is no different following stoma surgery.
You may find that having a stoma can affect the physical aspect of your relationship and desire or ability to return to normal sexual activity. If this is something you’re worried about, your Stoma Care Nurse can offer support.
Your Stoma Care Nurse is always happy to discuss any concerns you may have, and signpost to other professionals who may be able to help – even when it comes to sex and relationships. Partners are also important, and you should be involve them with your feelings, as they can offer support too.
So please do chat to your Stoma Care Nurse, that is what we are here for!
Need some advice? Contact S.T.A.R.S. today and we can arrange for you to speak with a Stoma Care Nurse within one working day of your call. Call 0808 115 5647 (9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday).
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by SecuriCare Team
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