What is the link between a stoma and erectile problems?
Resuming sexual activity after stoma surgery can be an emotional and daunting time for you and your partner.
After surgery, it is important to identify the cause(s) that might be responsible for an erectile disorder in a man.
Different causes of erectile disorders after stoma surgery
A stoma requires abdominal-perineal surgery. Any surgery performed below the navel in a man may induce an erectile disorder: nerves and blood vessels needed for the erection are closely interlinked with all the organs in the lesser pelvis and may be irritated or numb as a result of the area having been “invaded” surgically. This is not due to the surgeon but is linked to the nature of the operation itself. Please be aware that these disorders are often temporary.
Furthermore, erectile dysfunction may also be caused by the condition that required the creation of your stoma. It may be the case that cancer or inflammation in the lesser pelvis is responsible. Once again, the anatomical structures enabling erection are in contact with the organs in the abdomen and pelvis, so any condition that damages them may also cause an erectile disorder.
Finally, as with any change in body image, the stoma may cause erectile disorders with a psychological origin: fear of another person seeing the stoma or possible odours, the change to your body, and a permanent visual reminder of your condition are all risk factors for erectile disorders.
You can experience fulfilling sexual relations with a stoma
We recommend that you as a couple take certain steps to ensure a smoother transition to returning to sexual activity. Discussion is vital! Talk about your feelings and reactions to the changes that have occurred. This will defuse your doubts and fears about the desire and ability to give each other pleasure.
Even with discussion, the change may mean that you need to ask questions about your erectile ability. Even if the original condition is not urological, it is advisable to consult a urologist who can help you to regain an erection, either through appropriate treatment or sex therapy. The aim is to regain fulfilling and enjoyable sexual activity.