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“Stomas feel like deal breakers in the bedroom. How can I feel more confident being intimate & negotiating bodily functions?”

Cancer nurse Beth says...

Sex and intimacy are important and fulfilling aspects of your life that should continue after your surgery. But of course there is a period of adjustment after surgery, and it can affect intimate relationships.

Communication is key and you should discuss any concerns you have with your partner. A stoma is quite a change in how you look and can make you feel anxious and self-conscious. It’s likely that your partner will be anxious about sex, too, and may be afraid of hurting you. For people with abdominal ostomies, sexual function may or may not change. Some people may experience pain during sex, while others have trouble getting and keeping an erection. Their sexual potency may sometimes be affected for a short time. These problems usually get better with time.


  • Enjoy the sensations you’re currently experiencing, even if they’re less intense than they used to be
  • Explore other erogenous zones as sensations may have changed since surgery.
  • Take your genitals out of the equation
  • Pretend you’ve never had solo or partnered sex before
  • Don’t be stingy with time
  • Change the bag before intercourse. If you prefer, cover your bag with fabric or a cummerbund to prevent the plastic clinging to your skin
  • Wear clothing that makes you feel good – a mini-slip, short nightgown or nightshirt, specially designed underwear or boxer shorts
  • Have sex in the bath/shower
  • After a heavy meal, wait for 2–3 hours before having sex
  • Talk to your stoma nurse about learning irrigation to allow you to use a stoma cap or a small pouch during sex
  • Use pouch deodorants or wear perfume to help control any odours
  • Allow your partner to see or touch the stoma

Sex toy expert Renee says...

YouTuber Hannah Witton is a great role model for numerous reasons, and she happens to have a stoma. She has been vlogging about her journey with stoma and we recommend following her account, as she regularly shares updates and tips for how to manage sex.

There are lots of different cute and sexy stoma belts to choose from, if that sounds like something you’d like to look into.