Send to

Choose Destination
Soc Sci Med. 2005 Jul;61(2):405-15. Epub 2005 Jan 19.

Boundary breaches: the body, sex and sexuality after stoma surgery.

Author information

Key Centre for Women's Health in Society, Department of Public Health, The University of Melbourne, 1/305 Cardigan Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.


People with limited or no bladder or bowel control, who have had a stoma to manage elimination, have a particular awareness of the proximity of the sites of pleasure and excretion. Drawing on interviews and related ethnography conducted in Australia from 1998 to 2001, this paper explores how men and women with permanent continence problems negotiate their sexuality around their bodily unreliability. Pleasurable sex, idealized, involves losing control. People who are incontinent or rely on a stoma, however, must monitor their bladder and bowel, disguising the stoma and bag and controlling their body in sex as in other circumstances. The need to negotiate bodily boundaries with established partners, or to disclose to new sexual partners, results in self-consciousness and social unease, and people need to reconstruct notions of privacy and dignity so that breaches in bodily control do not undermine the sexual relationship. For many, the stoma undermines self-esteem and body image, while its management confuses the status of the individual as "normal" and the partner as carer or lover.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center