Joe is glad he had a stoma bag fitted – but says it has had a dramatic impact on his sex life (Picture: Joe Castle)
In 2014, Joe Castle – a gay man – had a stoma fitted.
He says that having a stoma has dramatically changed his sex life.
Joe, 28, had a stoma formed due to gastro paralysis with colitis. He had contracted the flu when he was nine, which paralysed his entire digestive system.
Due to being so unwell, he spent most of his life in and out of the hospital. He was given an ileostomy, which is where the end of the small bowel is pulled out to the outside of your abdomen, to allow waste to be collected in a stoma bag, after suffering with rectal bleeding and sickness that became so debilitating that had his condition deteriorated any more, he would have died.
He also has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome that affects his collagen and connective tissues, and mast cell activation.
Joe, from Essex, had only been with his partner, Dean, 42, for a year when his stoma was formed. Joe says that Dean has always been ‘super supportive’, and totally supported Joe’s agreement to have a stoma bag.
Hairdresser Joe says that at first, his stoma bag didn’t bother him when it came to his sex life, as he still had his large bowel, meaning anal sex was possible, and still comfortable.
Joe, 28, had a stoma formed due to gastro paralysis with colitis (Picture: Joe Castle)
Joe was at risk of an early death (Picture: Joe Castle)
As Joe describes himself as the ‘receiver’ in the relationship, it meant that, though Joe struggled with his body confidence following the procedure, his sex life wasn’t impacted.
But over the space of a year, his condition deteriorated to the point there was no other choice than to remove his remaining large bowel. He was left with a tiny bit of his rectum – something he pleaded with doctors to keep so that his sex life wasn’t over forever.
Joe tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Dean and I had a good chat about it all and we just knew that my health comes first before any sexual activity, and we would just have to deal with the outcome.
‘Dean was fine with it and he sat and spoke to my surgical team about it himself. We decided we would leave a small amount of bowel so that I can still experience a small amount of sex, even if very gently.’
His boyfriend, Dean, has been totally supportive (Picture: Joe Castle)
He continues: ‘My sex life has changed a lot. I’m not able to just rip Dean’s clothes off and have full anal sex.
‘Now, if we are going to do it, we have to take our time and go really slow and gentle. We can’t go deep as I don’t have enough bowel to be able to do this.’
Joe says while he has accepted his bag, the steroids he has to take have made him feel unconfident.
‘They have changed my body and made me gain weight, and I get the dreaded “moon face” as I’m on them long-term,’ he explains.We have no idea when I can stop taking them.
‘When I first had my bag I hated it and thought “What have I done? Why did I agree to this?”, I hated my body.’
Joe struggled with body image after having the major surgery (Picture: Joe Castle)
Joe got through this with the help of his mum, who changed his bag, his dad, who also had a bag for a short period of time, and the support of Dean.
He says being receiving anal sex in bed is ‘hard right now’, due to only having 5mm of bowel left.
He said: ‘Intercourse isn’t the easiest thing to do. It can cause me to bleed, so I have to take it super slow.
‘When we can, it’s great. But I have to take it so slow and watch for any pain and bleeding.
‘But sex doesn’t have to be about anal – there’s loads we can do. The world has come on loads nowadays; there are toys and kinky stuff. And then there’s oral.’
He wants to let people know that life can go on with a stoma bag (Picture: Joe Castle)
Joe says that while he and Dean did have sex much more frequently before his stoma, it hasn’t totally stopped his sex life.
‘I would say we did have sex more before, it was all the time,’ he tells us. ‘Now it’s more like once or twice a week, but some weeks it can be every day.’
Due to the stoma bag being full of stool, it can sometimes leak. This has actually happened to Joe during sex – but he and Dean just get on with things.
‘I have leaked during sex, but I’m lucky that me and Dean just laugh it off’, he says.
Sex might have changed, but it hasn’t stopped (Picture: Joe Castle)
‘We wash the sheets and jump in the shower and then carry on.’
While Joe’s bag is permanent, he has completely accepted it and is now couldn’t imagine life without it. His relationship is still a happy and fulfilled one – even if they’ve had to get used to a change in the bedroom.
Joe says: ‘It’s okay to be scared. A stoma bag doesn’t mean it’s the end of your life – or your sex life. There is loads you can do; just be inventive and make sure you have a good support system for the mental side of things.
‘I think we miss being able to just bend over and have sex’ (Picture: Joe Castle)
‘My relationship since the bag is great, it hasn’t changed much between us. Dean knows everything about how I feel – we’re really open and talk about everything.
‘I think we miss being able to just bend over and have sex. It’s not like that now.
‘I can still be the receiver – it just has to be extremely slow and we have to use loads of lube. He can’t do it all in as I just don’t have enough bowel for that.
‘I think he’s happy with our sex life. I am. We just have to be slow, and go from there.’
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