Myth # 9 Ostomy Surgery: After ostomy surgery, men become impotent, and women have impaired sexual function and are unable to become pregnant.
False - Ostomy surgery does not, in general, interfere with a person's sexual or reproductive capabilities. Ostomy surgery is a procedure in which the diseased part of the small or large intestine is removed and the remaining intestine is attached to an opening in the abdomen. Stool is collected in a bag taped to the skin over the opening. Alternatively, an internal pouch that collects the stool may be formed from a portion of the intestine. The pouch then can be emptied by insertion of a catheter at regular intervals.
Although some men who have had radical ostomy surgery for cancer lose the ability to achieve and sustain an erection, most men do not, or, if they do, it is temporary. This is caused by damage to the nerves that supply the penis. If erectile dysfunction persists, a variety of solutions are available. A urologist, a doctor who specializes in such problems, can help find the best solution.
In women, ostomy surgery does not damage sexual or reproductive organs, so it is not a direct cause of sexual problems or sterility. Factors such as pain and the adjustment to a new body image may create temporary sexual problems, but they can usually be resolved with time and, in some cases, counseling. Unless a woman has had a hysterectomy to remove her uterus, she can still bear children.