Many of us value our relationships with others and find that our caring, intimate relationships form a very important part of our everyday life. For those of us that suffer from a bladder issues or incontinence, it can be an added complication which may leave you feeling that is impossible to form any kind of intimate relationship for fear of embarrassment or judgement.
It is important to remember that sexual activity is not the only important factor in a relationship. Often by the time a relationship enters any form of intimacy you already have formed a close emotional bond with your partner, and they may already have a good understanding of your bladder problems.
It may help if you imagine that it is not you who has the continence problem but your partner instead. If this were the case, would your partner’s continence problem cause you to leave them? Or would you offer support and help to find solutions to the problem so your relationship can continue to grow? Take some steps to talk honestly with your partner about your issues, whilst these may seem like awkward conversations to have, it will likely strengthen your relationship and aid with your overall self-esteem in the long term.
Achieving an active sex life is possible for those who are incontinent or appliance users. It may help to reduce any worries you are feeling about intimacy and intercourse if you address any problems that may happen and plan how to deal with them in advance. Then when sexual activity does occur, it should hopefully flow more naturally and result in a more pleasurable experience for both you and your partner.
If you are concerned about leakages happening during sex, take precautions such as emptying your bladder just before intercourse and slightly reducing your fluid intake beforehand, especially avoiding drinks which are common bladder irritants. If you follow these steps it is unlikely that any leak will be serious. Always remember that although a small leak during sexual activity might be inconvenient there are usually several other bodily fluids involved during sex so it will likely go unnoticed. You could also consider protecting the bed in some way with bed pads, a waterproof mattress protector or even some old towels or bedding for an inexpensive alternative.
People who have been properly trained by a healthcare professional and are comfortable with practising intermittent self-catheterisation (ISC) should find that self-catheterisation rarely interferes with sexual activity if you make sure to catheterise and empty your bladder completely prior to intercourse.
Suprapubic catheters are usually the best option for indwelling urinary catheters if you are sexually active. A suprapubic catheter enters the bladder through a small incision made in the abdomen so it is not in the way at all during intercourse, although many suprapubic catheter users tape the tubing down using surgical tape to prevent any risk of it getting in the way or pulled during sex.
Women wearing an indwelling urethral catheter may find that taping the catheter with surgical tape to one side as a precaution during intercourse keeps the catheter from getting in the way during sexual activity. Whereas males can bend the catheter back along the penis and hold it in place with surgical tape or a condom. Some men may need to consider introducing bladder washouts to prevent their catheter from blocking after ejaculation, but this should only be done following a discussion with a continence nurse who can explain this simple procedure.
If your catheter is normally connected to a drainage bag you might consider asking your continence nurse if you are suitable to use a catheter valve in place of a drainage bag. However, if you prefer to leave your catheter connected to a drainage bag, think about what type of bag is most suitable and where it could be placed during intercourse. For example, you could connect your leg bag to a night drainage bag on a stand at the side of the bed out of the way, this would also prevent any problems that could be caused by lying on the leg bag or tubing during intercourse.
Urinary sheath users should find no problems with the appliance interfering with your sex life provided you simply remove the sheath and wash your penis prior to any sexual activity and replace it with a new one afterwards.
Hopefully you find these tips helpful and a good starting point but as always, if you speak to your partner you may be able to come up with a slightly different way of doing things that work better for you both. Ultimately no one can understand your relationship with body or your partner better than you do, so experiment and have fun doing so!
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Brought to you by Optimum Medical, specialists in Urology products, the Ugo Urology range has been designed to restore confidence. Our wide range of high-quality Urology products comprises of Leg Bags, Night Drainage Bags, Sheaths, Catheters and much more. View the full range here.