Relationships

Relationships

Supporting your partner through their stoma journey…Its life changing but does not have to change your life.

It is important to get involved as soon as you find out your partner needs surgery. Start by researching what a stoma is, familiarise yourself with stoma pouches. Your partner will have their own worries and concerns, talk openly and honestly together. Discuss how you can be an advocate for your partner post operatively. If surgery is unexpected, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Be brave…get involved with their ostomy care, if this is something your partner is comfortable with, this can help alleviate concerns for both of you. Keep a positive attitude and try to keep things light-hearted. Your partner’s stoma will change over time – the pouch may change, the stoma may shrink, discharge and output will change. Ask as many questions as you need, especially when your stoma care nurse is around to answer questions you both may have – there are no silly questions.  Listen to your partner, it can be a very emotional time after any surgery.

Recovery from a major operation can take time, encourage your partner to follow the advice of their stoma team who will give instructions on when to return to gentle activity and what is safe for them. NHS guidelines suggest returning to normal activities after around 8 weeks, but everyone’s journey will have a different timeline and your partner will need time to heal and adjust to life with a stoma. It is important to show your partner affection, this could be through sharing emotions, holding their hand or as simple as giving them a well needed hug. Do not expect to return to physical intimacy straight away, however your partner’s stoma should not stop them enjoying sex. Have a chat with your stoma team to establish the right time to resume sexual activity. Communication is key to re-establishing intimacy, consider discussing anxieties your partner may have and above all, help your partner feel positive about their new body and reassure them that their stoma hasn’t changed the way you feel.

NHS Guidelines – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ileostomy/recovery/

Bladder and Bowel – https://www.bladderandbowel.org/bowel/stoma/expect-after-stoma-surgery/

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