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Telling others

You might be worried about how others will accept you and how your social role may change. It is natural to wonder how you will explain your surgery. Your friends and relatives may ask questions about your operation. Tell them only as much as you want them to know. Do not feel as if you have to explain your surgery to everyone who asks. A clear, brief answer would be that you had abdominal surgery, or that you had all or part of your intestine removed.

If you have children, answer their questions simply and truthfully. A simple explanation is often enough for them. Once you have explained what an ileostomy is they may ask questions about it and want to see your stoma or the pouch. Talking about your surgery in a natural way will help get rid of any wrong ideas that they may have. They will accept your ileostomy much the same way you do.

If you are single and dating, you can pick your time to tell a partner, but it might be better to do so early in a relationship. Stress the fact that this surgery was necessary and managing your ileostomy does not affect with your activities and enjoyment of life. This not only lessens your anxiety, but if there is an issue that cannot be overcome, the letdown is not as harsh as it might be later. Do not wait until intimate sexual contact leads to discovery.

If you are considering marriage, talking with your future spouse about life with an ileostomy and its effect on sex, children, and family acceptance will help correct any of your partner's wrong ideas. Going to an ostomy support group meeting together may also be helpful. Talking to other couples in which one partner has an ileostomy will give you both an experienced point of view. See the section called "Intimacy and sexuality" for more information.

Last Medical Review: 03/17/2011
Last Revised: 03/17/2011