Continence and Sex
Millions of people experience incontinence, and worries about leakages during sex mean that many people avoid intimate contact all together. This leaflet provides strategies that will help you to maintain a happy sex life whilst dealing with a continence problem.
Minimising the problem
Despite the fact that sex often includes the exchange of various body fluids, and that urine is perfectly harmless, the most common worry about incontinence is that a leakage will occur during sex. If this is a concern for you, there are practical steps you can take that should help you feel more in control.
The best way to avoid a leakage is to have a regular bowel and bladder programme. Ask your GP to refer you to a dietician who will help with this. You may also find that avoiding drinks a few hours before sexual activity, and going to the toilet immediately before you have sex will minimise problems.
The Continence Foundation has leaflets which cover all aspects of continence.
Call their helpline on: 0845 345 0165 Monday to Friday, 9:30am to12:30 pm.
Personal hygiene is particularly important for a person with continence problems, and regular washing can help you feel more confident. You should wash at least once a day, but avoid using too much soap or other perfumed products as this can cause irritation. Ask your partner to take a shower or bath with you before you have sex as part of foreplay. Many people find that this also helps them relax and feel sexy.
Can I do it with a catheter?
Although suprapubic catheters (those which go into the bladder through the abdominal wall) may make sex easier, you can still have sex with a normal bladder-outlet catheter. Your continence advisor may be able to teach you and your partner how to take it out and put it back in after sex, or you may have sex with it still in place. “Sex is all about being comfortable in your yourself. You have to be able to say: ‘yes, I’ve got a catheter, so what?’”
For women it is important to remember that the catheter is in the bladder outlet, not the vagina, so it shouldn’t have much effect on sex. Make sure that you have a female length catheter, as it easier to keep this type out of the way during sex. Try taping the catheter out of the way on your hip or leg, and experiment with positions such as lying on your side. You may find that some positions put less pressure on your catheter than others.
For men, surgical tape can be used to fold the catheter back along the shaft of the penis. A condom can also help to keep it in place. If you use plenty of lubrication, such as KY Jelly or Astroglide, you should find that the catheter doesn’t affect your partner. Ask your health advisor about bladder wash outs. They will teach you a simple technique which will prevent your catheter getting blocked with semen.
Talking to professionals
No one should try and cope with continence problems on their own. If you have problems but have not seen a doctor yet, go to your GP. It is a very common problem that they deal with all the time. They may help you reduce or stop leakages with medication. If you are uncomfortable raising the issue with you doctor, take this leaflet.
Any questions on personal issues like these can be asked on our Sex and Disability Helpline:
Post: Tuppy Owens, BCM Box Lovely, London WC1N 3XX
Email: Email Helpline
Phone: 07770 884 985 : The Helpline is open weekdays 11am to 7pm