Intimacy and Relationships

Nurturing Intimacy and Relationships with an Ileostomy


Living with an ileostomy can bring unique challenges to intimate relationships and personal connections. However, these challenges do not have to be obstacles. This article aims to offer guidance and tips for maintaining and enhancing intimacy and relationships when one has an ileostomy, focusing on communication, self-confidence, and physical intimacy.

Open Communication

  • Honest Dialogue: Start with open and honest communication about your ileostomy with your partner, addressing any concerns or questions they may have.

  • Educating Your Partner: Educate your partner about what an ileostomy is and how it affects your life. This can help in building understanding and empathy.

  • Discussing Fears and Expectations: Share your fears and expectations concerning the relationship and intimacy, encouraging your partner to do the same.

  • Seeking Professional Advice: Consider speaking with a counselor or therapist together if you find it challenging to open these discussions on your own.

Building Self-Confidence

  • Accepting Your Body: Work on accepting your body as it is, recognizing that an ileostomy doesn’t define your self-worth or desirability.

  • Positive Self-Talk: Engage in positive self-talk and affirmations to boost your confidence.

  • Support Groups: Join ileostomy support groups to connect with others who understand your experience and can offer advice.

  • Focus on Your Strengths: Remind yourself of your strengths and qualities that make you a great partner beyond the physical aspect.

Navigating Physical Intimacy

  • Timing: Choose times for intimacy when your ileostomy bag is less likely to be full, such as after emptying it.

  • Comfortable Positions: Experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you and your partner.

  • Protective Products: Utilize products like ostomy bag covers or supportive garments during intimate moments for added comfort and security.

  • Being Patient and Creative: Understand that it might take time to adjust, and be open to experimenting with different ways to express physical affection.


An ileostomy can pose challenges in relationships and intimacy, but with open communication, self-confidence, and a willingness to adapt, these challenges can be navigated successfully. Remember, intimacy is not just a physical connection but also an emotional one. By focusing on trust, understanding, and love, you can maintain and even strengthen your relationships.

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