Body Image and Ostomy Services at UnityPoint Health | Des Moines, Iowa

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UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

Body Image

Body Image is the way a person views how his or her body looks, smells, and appears to others

Pregnancy:  Research has shown that women with stomas can and do get pregnant and have healthy babies. However, they should be followed carefully by appropriate healthcare professionals throughout their pregnancy.

Odor:  Keep your body clean. The ostomy pouch is odor proof. You may also choose to use pouch deodorizers.

Clothing: People typically wear the same clothing they did before their surgery when they have an ostomy. Women can still wear pantyhose and girdles. A patterned swimsuit might be better than a solid one.

Work and Travel: An ostomy should not limit anyone from work or travel after the normal surgery recovery time. It is always important to have extra equipment available away from home. Do not leave supplies in an automobile.  Carry your ostomy supplies with you on the plane. If you need scissors on a plane, carry a doctor's prescription for the scissors.

Activity, Exercise, Sports, and Seat Belts: Your doctor will tell you when it is appropriate to return to your normal activities. Extremely rough sports should be approached with caution, but ostomates can be physically active. People can swim, play golf, softball and other sports. Moisture might decrease your wear time on your pouch. Ostomates should try to wear their seatbelts either below or above their stomas.

Intimacy: Be assured and reassure your partner that close body contact and sexual movement will not injure the stoma. It is important to discuss your feelings with your intimate partner and/or a counselor. Fears alone can inhibit sex. Talk to your partner about any physical limitations, pain, fears, your mutual expectations, sexual activities you like or do not like and any other emotions that interfere with the desire to share sex.

Because the surgical area is in the pelvis, men might have difficulty getting or keeping an erection after surgery. The extent of surgical involvement often will determine if men will have trouble or not.

Some medications can cause reduced sexual desire, difficulty ejaculating, difficulty getting/keeping an erection, and decreased strength of orgasms. Examples are blood pressure meds, antidepressants, pain medicines, alcohol, tranquilizers, antihistamines and sleeping pills.

Helpful Hints

  • Empty pouch prior to sex
  • Avoid gassy foods prior to sex
  • Use pouch deodorizers
  • Cover your pouch with a pouch cover