Bowel issues and sex

During sex, bowel issues are one of the last things anyone wants to think about. Fortunately, these issues are often temporary and can be improved with time and healing.

Bowel issues after radiation therapy (radiotherapy) can include diarrhoea with soft, bloody stools and sometimes the need to run to the toilet.

You may also notice that the skin inside your anus (the hole your poo comes out of) is extra sensitive, too. This irritation can make anal sex uncomfortable and painful, and getting in the mood can be difficult overall.

Bowel issues and anal sex

Keep in mind that your body needs time to heal before getting back into the swing of things. Having anal sex while dealing with bowel issues can further irritate your skin or cause damage. It may help to let things settle 3 to 4 weeks after treatment before having anal sex again.

Too much irritation can cause permanent damage to your anal canal. You should also stay away from products that numb the anal area, as this can be equally damaging.

If you’re having any of these issues, don't be afraid to speak to your doctor or care team. There are many things that can be done to help.

After I've healed, what else
can I do to prepare for sex?

Once you’ve healed, there are things you can do before and during sex to ease your way back in.

Before sex

  • avoid eating foods that cause you bowel issues for several hours before sex

  • empty your bowels just before having sex

  • maintain good personal hygiene to help boost your confidence

  • light scented candles if you're concerned about smells

During sex

  • have tissues and towels nearby

  • you can use an anal plug, which can be bought online

Remember, you probably won't have to deal with bowel issues for too long. Talk to your partner about how you feel and other ways you can stay close and connected. Your doctor or care team can also refer you to a sex therapist or sexual health counsellor, who can provide some helpful guidance.

Additional Resources

Managing bowel side effects

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Bowel issues and sex , here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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