UC & Relationships: Obstacle or Challenge?

December 21, 2009

So living with UC or Crohn’s, or living post-surgery, can be very tough if you are single and trying to start a relationship. Belieeeeeve me, haha.

Some of us were in relationships when we first got sick, and I give immense credit to those partners who stuck around with us while the timing was tough. I have the deepest respect for you, because it is very hard to understand what your partner is going through and the type of emotional rollar coasters they go through, as well as the intense physical changes they experience. Those relationships may have been strained by the disease, and either ended or grew from working through it.

But then there are some of us who are single and facing the challenges of how to bring a relationship into our already crazy lives. There’s always the question of whether you should bring something up to them in the beginning or wait awhile. But then again, they are seeing you go to the bathroom all the time, so I think it’s better to bring it out in the open, so they aren’t wondering why you always head to the bathroom. They could be thinking a lot worse things, haha.

For those of us living post-surgery, it’s something you may be able to keep discreet for a lot longer. At least until you get your shirt off. I know most of the time I end up telling someone is because they ask what the scar is on my stomach. I had it done lapyroscopically, so I only have little poke-hole scars, and one bigger scar from the ostomy. That’s usually the only one they notice. Sometimes I joke that I got caught in a knife fight, or that I was “in the wrong place, at the wrong time”. The look you get back is priceless and totally worth any strange thoughts they may have. Then I tell them I’m joking and confess the true story, which coincidentally gives the same face, haha. Most of them can’t actually believe that you can have your whole large intestine out. So I continue to joke and say that you can’t have the whole thing out, and I just did it anyways to be used as a test subject. If anyone can get past my dry sense of humor about this surgery, I know they’re a great person.

I have to say that of the guys I’ve dated since the surgery, every single one of them accepted me for it, and was even a little curious about it. Some would come back the next day with information that surprises me, only to find out they went home and googled it. That always makes me smile, because to have someone research a topic so they could understand it more means a lot to me. Some would want to see the pictures from the surgery, while others were fine without that. One main thing that sits like an elephant in the room, is that we may both be thinking about sexual practices. I wonder if they think whether or not I can have sex, and they might actually be thinking that same thing. So I usually just toss it out there, so we can get that topic out of the way. I tell them, yes, I can have sex.

I have an ileo-rectal anastamosis, which means I still have my rectum. That means I would still be able to have sex. People who live with the j-pouch are not advied to have surgery, because the sutures are right at the end, and very vulnerable to damage. But that is going to require it’s own post at a later time.

One unfortunate thing I have to say is that each relationship is still always bothered by this journey. I can say that 100% of the time it’s my fault. I have insecurity issues and I have yet to get over them. But it’s only been 7 months since my last surgery, so I know I have more time to accept things. I’m confident that once I’m totally comfortable with myself, I will be able to let someone into my life completely and have a successful relationship.

So I now want to open a topic about how relationships work for you? Have you had success? Were you already in a relationship? And did it fizzle or grow from the experience? Do you find it hard to date, and when do you usually bring the topic up? Has anyone had any bad experiences that they would like to share? I would like to hear from as many of you as possible so that others can see the experiences people go through and what the final results are. I think the only way we can accept ourselves is to know that others accept themselves and to learn from example.



  1. Hi Boots,
    I am 7 months post-op as well and it have been finding it quite difficult to date again. I had been in a 6-yr relationship when I got intensely sick all of a sudden and although our relationship was strained prior to me getting sick, he just took off and began an affair with someone else and did not even stick around for my surgeries. This really hit my self-confidence even though I’m a very attractive girl. Since then, I’ve been slowly rebuildimg my health, confidence and dating again. It’s not like before though because I have not found a way to talk about it; I’m still so self-conscious about the scars, gurgling noises, going to the bathroom and I seem to be trying to avoid sex. I was such a sexual person before and took a lot of pride in my appearance. Like you I think it’s more us than the others that make it uncomfortable. A lack of self-confidence and discomfort is a huge attraction killer. So I think it’s just a question of changing our mindset which will come with some time. I told myself that when my scars would be completely healed, I would be really ready to let someone in my life.

  2. Marilou-

    I’m sorry to hear about that. It’s really upsetting when you are sick and going through things like that, and all of a sudden the one thing you depend on for a support system, leaves you. It’s so depressing and something that’s really hard to get over, especially when you need to focus on recovery. I know I was stuck wondering what my life was going to be like single and without a large intestine. it definately plummets the self-esteem, but the way I look at it: you are a survivor. You survived the break-up (and the pain of him leaving you for someone else), you survived the disease, you survived the surgeries, and hopefully you’ve survived the thoughts of being less of a human.

    I am one year post-op and am still getting comfortable with being sexual, although in the past couple months I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable. I think I’m finally getting in sync with things and buildig up my confidence again. I’ve found I need to focus more on myself first, and then I can focus on someone else. Because I am aware that I am making sex more uncomfortable for myself, and by the time someone wants to have sex with me, they are already comfortable with everything anyways. So I think about that and I think that’s what gets me through. Please keep me updated as to how you are feeling and how the single life is treating you.


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