Regaining Your Sexual Confidence Following Stoma Surgery

After stoma surgery, the changes to your body and body image may cause you to lose sexual confidence. Learn how to regain it.


Learn about the impact of stoma surgery on sexual confidence.

Sexual confidence can be weakened or shaken after stoma surgery. The changes to your tummy can impact your body image. These body image issues can then affect your confidence when being intimate with your partner.

Regaining your confidence may take time. However, there are some practical things you and your sexual partner can do that may help in the short-term.

Plan in advance and lay the ground rules

It’s a good idea to talk to your partner about sex in the early stages after stoma surgery and set some realistic expectations. Here are some things you may want to talk about:

  • Agree on when you’ll resume sex after surgery
  • Make some practical preparations, such as allowing time for you to empty your pouch before sex, or putting on any cover you’ve decided to wear over your stoma
  • Set some goals and ground rules
  • Be clear about what you expect to happen – what you are willing to try and what you are not going to try. Clear communication can help you reduce anxiety and boost confidence. 

Start slowly

Sex doesn’t always have to be energy-consuming, especially as you resume your sex life after your ostomy procedure. Tender and gentle is best, and some exploring can help you gain sexual confidence. Try some of these activities during your next intimate encounter:

  • Start slowly, holding each other, touching, kissing, and caressing
  • Discover any altered sensations together, including numb skin patches, or any areas of pain
  • “Map” each other’s bodies and explore where each of you likes to be touched
  • Talk as you touch to increase the intimacy and fun

These techniques can help you gradually regain your sexual confidence. Keep talking to each other about what you want to achieve each time. Think about positions and what is physically comfortable and practical for you too. 

Stay positive if you have difficulties

Keep in mind that fatigue and loss of libido are common in the early weeks and months after stoma surgery. 

In addition, stress can play a negative role when you have intercourse for the first time. Stress alone can cause some men to struggle to get or keep their erection, and women may need additional lubrication. Please remember that none of these issues are necessarily permanent or due to changes caused by the stoma surgery. Try not to make assumptions about your partner’s desire for you as well. Talk to your healthcare team if these issues don’t resolve themselves on their own.