If a colostomy has been performed, many difficulties can be avoided if the patient's close social circle are aware of the situation. Patients may feel embarrassed by their new status, and their colostomy bag, if they have one. It is natural to want to hide this from everybody. The family should try to avoid any taboo developing about the nature of the surgery, and talk freely about the situation. However, it is understandable that the patient would feel inhibited about revealing their body, and it is a personal decision whether to undress at the beach or the swimming pool.
The diagnosis of colon cancer is a difficult time. Feelings of blame and guilt may be projected on other members of the family, and children are especially vulnerable, setting in train feelings of profound frustration which may even sometimes lead to depression. There is a major risk of setting up a vicious circle, in which the patient's intimate circle is distanced, just when the patient most needs support.
The principal advice from a psychologist or relationship counsellor would be not to lose hope. The majority of patients with a colostomy don't re-establish their sex life until six or eight months after the operation, but having a colostomy bag doesn't mean that a satisfying sex life is gone forever. Partners need to be patient, and above all maintain trust and communication. Love and affection are very good for physical health, and touching and caressing an important factor in the patient's recovery of their own self-image.
For further information: Ostomyguide
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