Lets talk about sex: Intimacy and bladder issues

For many of us, having caring and intimate relationships forms a major part of our everyday lives. But if you suffer from bladder issues or incontinence, it can easily complicate things and leave you feeling anxious about being judged or getting embarrassed. Try to always remember that sex isn’t the only important thing in a relationship! Being intimate can be anything from having open, honest conversations, to holding hands or cuddling on the sofa. And by the time you’re ready to get down and dirty, you’ve likely already formed a strong emotional bond and they know all about your bladder problems.

To combat your insecurities, you could try to imagine that it’s not you who has bladder problems but your partner. Would that make you leave them, or would you offer support and try to help find solutions so your relationship can continue to grow? Just be open and honest with your partner about how your issues and how you feel. These may seem like awkward conversations to have, but it will only strengthen your relationship and help you to build confidence. And having a healthy sex life is totally possible if you’re suffering from bladder problems! Having open conversations will make future sexual encounters more natural and will make the whole experience much more enjoyable for you and your partner.

Leaks

If you’re worried about leakages happening during sex, take some extra precautions like going for a pee right before and slightly reducing your fluid intake. Make sure you don’t reduce it too much, though, as this would risk you becoming dehydrated! It might also help to avoid any drinks that irritate your bladder, like alcohol or coffee. Those steps should make sure that any leak happening won’t be major!

And always remember, even though minor leaks during sex might be inconvenient, there are usually several other bodily fluids involved so it’ll likely go unnoticed. You could also protect the bed with bed pads or a waterproof mattress protector if that makes you feel safer. You could also try using some old towels or bedding if you need a less pricey alternative!

Catheters

If you’ve been shown by a healthcare professional and feel comfortable using intermittent self-catheterisation (ISC), you should find that it rarely interferes with your sex life. Simply catheterise and empty your bladder right before and you’re good to go!

If you’re sexually active and need an indwelling catheter, a suprapubic catheter is usually the best option as it enters the bladder through your abdomen. This means it won’t be in the way as much during sexual intercourse as a catheter that’s inserted via your urethra. You might want to consider using taping down the tubing of your catheter with surgical tape to make sure it doesn’t get pulled during sex.

If you’re a woman living with a urethral catheter, you may find that taping it to one side with surgical tape keeps it from getting into the way during sex. If you’re a man, you can simply bend the catheter back along your penis and hold it in place with surgical tape or a condom. You might also need to consider bladder washouts to prevent your catheter from getting blocked after ejaculating. Please discuss this with your continence nurse before as they will be able to show you how to do it!

If your catheter is normally connected to a leg bag, you might want to talk to your continence nurse about using a catheter valve for sexual activity. If that’s not possible or you prefer to leave your catheter connected to a drainage bag, have a think about what type of bag is most suitable for you and where it could be placed. For example, you might want to use a 2L overnight drainage bag that can be kept in a drainage bag stand next to your bed. This would also prevent any problems being caused by accidentally lying on the leg bag or tubing.

Sheaths

If you’re using a urinary sheath, it’ll unlikely interfere with your sex life at all. Simply remove the sheath and wash your penis prior to any sexual activity and then replace it with a new one afterwards.

Please always keep in mind that these are simply general guidelines and if you and your partner find a different way of doing things that works for you, then that’s totally fine!

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