Your sex life after pelvic exenteration

The physical changes to your body after the operation will mean changes to your sex life. You will need to make both physical and emotional adjustments. The operation varies from person to person, and how it affects sexuality will also vary. Your surgeon and specialist nurse will talk you through the changes you may experience.

It’s not usually possible to have an erection after the operation. This is because nerves that supply the penis are removed during surgery. If it’s possible to preserve some of these nerves during the operation, you may be able to have treatments to help gain an erection. Your surgeon can advise you about this and refer you for treatment.

Many people have worries and concerns about sex when they first have a stoma. Your stoma nurse will have experience of helping people through this and will be able to give you advice and support. Stoma support organisations like The Colostomy Association and The Ileostomy & Internal Pouch Support Group also produce information you may find helpful.

Adjusting to changes in how your body looks and responds takes time. Many people need to talk through their feelings and emotions. Some feel nervous about how their partner will react to their body. There is no right or wrong time or way to talk about these issues. You can wait until you and your partner feel ready. You may want to consider seeing a sex therapist or a counsellor. Your GP, specialist nurse or doctor can refer you. 

There are also a number of organisations that can give you information, advice and support about relationships and sexual intimacy. Call our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 for details.

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Having pelvic exenteration

Pelvic exenteration takes about eight hours. After the operation, you will have new ways for urine and bowel motions to leave your body.