Dear Love Lounge,
I’ve got a question about sex and bodily fluids. I’m in a new relationship with a wonderful woman who uses a catheter and a stoma bag. She has a spinal injury. We haven’t yet had sex but have had very small discussions about it. She says everything will be ok, and she’ll handle it. But it’s something I’ve never come across before and would like to know more about it before we do the deed. I feel quite nervous about sex and bodily fluids.
Can you help as I don’t want to ask my girlfriend the little details as she doesn’t seem that keen to talk in depth about it – she says it makes her feel unsexy.
I can totally understand your trepidation around the area. As it’s a new relationship your girlfriend may not want to risk losing the ‘spark’ by bombarding you with medical details. Hopefully once you decide to become more intimate, and she sees you’re not put off by it, the pathways of detailed communication will open up.
And it will probably need to, so that you’re aware of what it’s like for her and to be aware of what might happen. Sex and bodily fluids, when using a catheter and stoma bag can be a concern if you’re new to it. I have asked for some advice from our friends at the Spinal Injuries Association to let you know what to expect.
Your girlfriend will have either a suprapubic catheter (a catheter inserted through the abdomen into the bladder) or a urethral catheter. With a suprapubic, it can be taped to the abdomen to prevent it getting in the way. It can be drained beforehand and then a spigot or catheter valve can be attached to reduce the amount of tubing. This means you can do away with the drainage bag, so it’s more discreet whilst you’re being intimate.
With a urethral catheter, it can be carefully taped away from the genitals, on the leg or abdomen, allowing some slack to avoid causing trauma. You’ll need to be mindful of your movement in having sex with a urethral catheter; but it should all be ok if taped securely. It could be dislodged if accidentally pulled, so be careful! As the urethra is so close to the vagina, both of you may be aware of the catheter rubbing against your skin. Again, this shouldn’t be a problem but just something to be aware of.
With a stoma, the bag collects the waste and this can happen at any time during the day or night. Your partner may want to empty her bowel before you get down to business. This can be done with suppositories or an irrigation system (water is flushed through the bowel via the rectum, and it flushes out the stool, to clear the lower part of the bowel). Then, a cap is placed over the stoma so that the bag is not needed while you have sex. For peace of mind about any leakages with sex and bodily fluids, it may be wise to use a mattress protector anyway.
Hopefully this information will ease your worries, now you know what to expect. Perhaps opening the dialogue with your partner, with your new-found understanding, will allay her fears of the situation not seeming sexy. Showing her you’re at ease with it and want to make her feel as comfortable as possible too, should lead to you both having an enjoyable, happy sex life.
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