Let’s​ Get Personal.

Before I delve into this… Mum, Dad or any of my family, please don’t read any further, I’m not sure I can handle the awkwardness over the dinner table… 

One of the most common questions I get is ‘can you still have sex?’ and I find this is a weird question. Last I checked, your colon doesn’t have anything to do with your sex life… 

I don’t know about other ostomates, but I didn’t get much advice on this. Two days before surgery a nurse asked me ‘do you have a boyfriend?’ When I replied ‘no’, she brushed it off, saying ‘oh well, ask when you’re ready’. I found all the pamphlets and info pages say the same:

‘communicate with your partner’  

‘Talk to your stoma nurse’

The NHS even says ‘you may be concerned about body image, self-confidence and how your partner may react’

Which, I think is the wrong thing to say! My bag has given me more confidence than before, and if my partner doesn’t like what I look like, they can take a freaking hike! 

But, what if you don’t have a partner? How do we jump into the dating pool? What about one night stands – why do I have to be in a relationship? Should it change for us simply because we have one less organ than the people we’re dating? 

I’ll start with dating:

It took me a while to be confident enough to jump into the dating pool. I took a very honest p.o.v. and made a pact with myself: If someone doesn’t like the bag, or they have a problem with it, they’re not worth my time. I have this photo on my account (below) and if I’m asked questions about it or they ask for my Instagram, I explain briefly over message but prefer to continue it in person. For me, it’s a first date conversation because it gets it out in the open and if they don’t like it, thank you, next. 

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Dating for me has been a mixture of good and bad – I mean it’s online dating, we all get the odd weirdo – but generally I was pleasantly surprised. Some pity me and don’t know what to say. A few ask me disgusting questions and get deleted straight away. Ive had my fair share of body-shaming messages about my bag and some disappear when they find out. But surprisingly, I get respect more than anything else. Showing how I’ve overcome my illness/surgery seems to go down pretty well! 

Regardless if you have a bag, dating is all about being honest with what you want – not just with someone else, but yourself too. If you want a relationship, great. If you want to shag and never see them again, that’s fine too. Even if you don’t know what you want, you’ll figure it out as you go! If I can pass on one bit of advice, don’t jump into it if you’re not 100% ready; take it one step at a time. You have to love yourself before you let someone else. And NEVER let anyone make you feel sh*t about your body!

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Now onto sex: 

When I was about to undergo surgery, it’s hardly a surprise that sex was the last thing on my mind; I couldn’t even walk… And because I didn’t ask my nurse at the time, they didn’t give me anything in the way of advice.

Pre-surgery I was (and still am… thanks for the reminder) very single, but being single has actually been very empowering. If I date someone now they chose me, bag and all!

The first thing I ask myself is – ‘am I completely comfortable with this person?’ – and if the answer isn’t a definitive ‘yes’ then it doesn’t go any further. There’s a big difference between talking about my bag and letting someone see it in real life. If someone doesn’t respect that, bye hun… 

There are logistics to overcome: Having a full bag isn’t the easiest thing to work with, so I always make sure it’s empty or as flat as I can get it. This doesn’t stop spontaneity – some people pee before sex – it just means a trip to the bathroom, along with a quick check that it won’t leak! (Ostomates might be used to having sh*t down their leg from time-to-time, but someone without a bag probably isn’t!). Be aware that any weight on your stomach isn’t the most comfortable, so if someone is on top of you, stick to leaning on the non-bagged side. Talking of positions, (FYI I won’t go into detail here, this blog isn’t Kama Sutra for ostomates)… This is something completely unique regardless if you have a bag or not! It’s trial and error – they do say, practice makes perfect! Another thing to keep in mind is, the bottom of the bag does flap about – not exactly sexy – so I turned to places like LoveHoney, Ann Summers and OstomySecrets. If you don’t want to bare all, they offer a bit of security and confidence in things you can wear to make you feel more comfortable. 

It’s about honesty with yourself and the person you’re with. If I’m honest, I totally forget the bag is even there! Most of the time you get so wrapped up in the fun, it doesn’t have any impact on sex. 

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Ultimately, my dating and sex life hasn’t changed! I’ve dated and I’ve done the one-night-stand-never-to-be-seen-again. I find the upfront approach works for me, because that’s who I am, but it is down to YOU. If you want to leave the I-sh*t-into-a-bag conversation till you know them a little better that is completely ok! Just enjoy yourself! Dating, relationships and sex should be fun!

Find that inner spark of confidence, have a laugh and you’ll find your way! 

I found inspiration for this blog post with Hannah Witton’s Video here! 

**Disclaimer : This is personal, what works for me, might not for someone else**