You may have a stronger relationship if your partner understands your UC.
With any chronic condition, having a strong support system can be very helpful. That’s why if you have ulcerative colitis, it’s a good idea to talk to your partner about your condition and how it affects you. After all, the more they understand what you’re going through, the better they’ll be able to support you—which could make your relationship stronger.
There are many ways that ulcerative colitis could create tension if you and your partner are not on the same page. Symptoms may get in the way of plans or make you need to leave events suddenly. They may cause you to spend important events in the bathroom, or they may also affect your sex life.
Plus, being secretive about your ulcerative colitis may lead you to delay or avoid certain treatment. If you are having a flare but trying to hide it, you may not seek out the necessary treatment. Untreated, a flare can worsen and lead to potential UC complications. These are all great reasons to talk to your partner about your ulcerative colitis.
Tips for Talking to Your Partner About Ulcerative Colitis
1. Let them know what managing your condition entails.
For example, explain your treatment and the potential side effects. Explain what a flare is and how it affects you, as well as what you need when a flare occurs. Let them know that you may have frequent doctor appointments, and you may even need surgery at some point. Tell them about the lifestyle changes that you try to stick to and how they help prevent symptoms and other flares.
2. Talk about sex (even if it’s awkward).
Ulcerative colitis can have many effects on your sex life, and it’s important for your partner to understand that. Be honest with them about your personal symptoms and how they impact your desire or enjoyment of sex. For example, you may have pain that gets worse with penetrative sex, fatigue that makes sex undesirable, or incontinence that makes you self-conscious. If you don’t talk to your partner about these things, they may start to worry that it’s their fault that you’re avoiding or not excited about sex. Learn more about helping your sex life with ulcerative colitis here.
3. Educate your partner about the disease.
Be open and honest about how you were diagnosed, what your symptoms are, and what the long-term outlook or risks are. You don’t have to do all the research yourself: You can point them to good resources where they can learn more about the condition.
Finally, be patient. There’s a good chance that your partner has not heard of ulcerative colitis or doesn’t know much about it. It may take some time for them to fully understand your experience.
Talking to your significant other about UC can get awkward, but the payoffs may be worth it. Your partner may be able to provide more support, you won’t need to worry about hiding things from them, and the two of you may be able to enjoy a stronger relationship together.
Dr. Kayal is a gastroenterologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.