Telling others about your urostomy

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 your bladder removed or bypassed.

If you have children, answer their questions simply and honestly. A simple explanation is often enough for them. Once you have explained what a urostomy is, they may ask questions 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 they may have. They will accept your urostomy much the same way you do.

If you’re single and dating, you can pick the time to tell a new partner, but it seems better to do so early in a relationship. Stress the fact that this surgery was necessary and managing your urostomy 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 urostomy 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 urostomy will give you both an experienced point of view. See Intimacy and Sexuality When You Have a Urostomy 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:

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: December 2, 2014 Last Revised: December 2, 2014

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