Impotence After Ostomy Surgery

For some men, impotence after ostomy surgery is a possibility. But for many, it’s a result of other factors. Here’s what you should know about male impotency.

Impotence after Ostomy Surgery

Get help if you experience impotence after ostomy surgery.

Some men experience impotence after ostomy surgery. Besides the loss of sexual enjoyment, the inability to get or sustain an erection long enough to ejaculate or climax can cause tension in a relationship.

Although it may be difficult, try to discuss this issue with your partner. Being open and honest will help you stay close and loving as you both work your way through this issue. Remember that gentleness, tenderness, and patience, as well as a positive self-image, are essential to a happy and enjoyable sex life.

It might be temporary

Temporary impotence is not unusual following stoma surgery. Don’t be discouraged if you experience this after your operation. The healing process sometimes takes a long time. In fact, a full recovery can take up to two years. Only then will you know whether the issue is permanent. If you are undergoing further treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, this can also affect your desire and performance.

It might be a lifestyle issue

Impotence is a highly complex phenomenon. It can occur in men of any age, and for many reasons. So, it may not even be a direct result of your surgery.

Impotence can be caused by both psychological and physical factors. Sometimes it is simply a matter of having doubts, or feeling stressed about your ability to have an erection or climax. This can become a vicious cycle of failure, loss of belief, and continued failure. Talk to your healthcare professional for additional guidance.

Lifestyle issues that can play a part in both causing and contributing to impotence include:

  • Fatigue
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Performance anxiety

It is possible that simple changes in lifestyle can help. If not, seek a medical opinion.

It might be the surgery

There is a risk that the nerves governing erection and ejaculation were damaged in ostomy surgery. Erection happens when stimuli travel along the nerve pathways. These fibers run close to the rectum. If these fibers were damaged during the procedure, the ability to have an erection can be wholly or partially lost. Ejaculation is also dependent on the nervous system. These pathways are vulnerable in surgery too.

Impotence can be more common for men with a colostomy. Bowel surgery can be extensive and may cause damage to the tissues and the nerve pathways responsible for erection and ejaculation.

In the case of permanent impotence, don’t lose hope. There are possibilities for help. Over the past few years, medical science has developed surgical techniques that help some impotent men, including people with stomas. This type of surgery is highly specialized. If you are interested, the first step is to talk to your stoma care nurse, surgeon, or other healthcare professional.

Download the full pdf: Living with an Ostomy: Sex & Parenthood