Telling others about your colostomy
You might be worried about how others will accept you and how your social life may change. It’s natural to think about how you’ll explain your surgery. Your friends and relatives may ask questions about your operation. Tell them only as much as you want them to know. Don’t 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 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 a colostomy 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 colostomy much the same way you do.
If you’re single and dating, you can pick your time to tell a new partner, but it might be better to do so early in a relationship. Stress the fact that this surgery was necessary and managing your colostomy does not affect 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’re in a relationship, married, or considering marriage, talk with your partner about life with a colostomy and its effect on sex, children, and your lifestyle. Going to an ostomy support group meeting together may also be helpful. Talking to other couples in which one partner has a colostomy will give you both an experienced point of view. See Intimacy and Sexuality When You Have a Colostomy for more on this.
In its original form this document was written by the United Ostomy Association, Inc. (1962-2005) and reviewed by Jan Clark, RNET, CWOCN and Peg Grover, RNET. It has since been modified and updated by:
Last Medical Review: December 2, 2014 Last Revised: December 2, 2014
- What is a colostomy?
- How your digestive system works
- Types of colostomies
- Closing or reversing a colostomy
- Managing your colostomy
- Choosing a colostomy pouching system
- Changing the colostomy pouching system
- Colostomy irrigation (for descending and sigmoid colostomies only)
- Ordering and storing colostomy supplies
- Caring for a colostomy
- Avoiding and managing colostomy problems
- If you are hospitalized while you have a colostomy
- Living with a colostomy
- Telling others about your colostomy
- Eating and digestion with a colostomy
- What to wear when you have a colostomy
- Returning to work after getting a colostomy
- Intimacy and sexuality when you have a colostomy
- Playing sports and staying active with a colostomy
- Traveling when you have a colostomy
- For parents of children with colostomies
- Getting colostomy help, information, and support
- To learn more