The process of accepting your ostomy is not a solo flight. Families and friends are affected by watching you navigate through this process. Your intimate partner is often just as frightened and concerned as you are. They might fear losing you, suffer grief related to loss of normal daily activities, be upset by changes in your relationship, and may fear hurting you during sexual relations. Studies have shown that partners cope better when involved in the decision-making processes along with their loved one. Individuals who feel their partners are emotionally involved along the way have less emotional distress and better psychological adjustment. This results in better sexual relations.
Of course, your personal relationship prior to surgery helps determine the quality of your interactions afterward. If there were problems in the relationship, those might become magnified after your surgery. If not involved in a relationship prior to surgery, you might feel apprehensive to discuss your ostomy with a new partner.
The first sexual experience following ostomy surgery is very important for healthy long-term sexual adjustment, feelings of attractiveness, less emotional distress for both partners, and improved relationship satisfaction. It is important for your partner to be aware of their initial reaction during the first sexual encounter. They should not deny their feelings, but their overall emotion of caring should be expressed to you. Their role at this point is to provide security during this very vulnerable time.
It doesn’t matter how often you have sexual relations that impacts your feeling of attractiveness and desirability. It’s the quality of the intimacy. Talk about your sexual relations prior to engaging in sex and plan to make it a good experience.
Partners, your willingness to initiate relations once you’ve re-established intimacy will go a long way in reassuring your partner of their sex appeal and your devotion. It’s the caring that counts!