Sexual problems following ileostomy or colostomy surgery are common. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of telephone counseling on the sexual lives of individuals with a bowel stoma. METHOD: Using a randomized,controlled, quasi-experimental study design, patients who were between 18 and 70 years old, had a sexual partner, and had undergone ileostomy or colostomy surgery were eligible to participate. Patients were randomized to telephone counseling as needed (intervention) or regular outpatient follow-up care only (control) for 12 weeks following surgery. Sociodemographic data were collected, and the Golombok-Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction (GRISS) was completed on admission for surgery and 6 and 12 weeks post operatively. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and the Mann-Whitney U, Kruskal-Wallis, Friedman, Wilcoxon signed ranks, and chi-squared tests and Yates's correction for continuity. RESULTS: Of the 70 participants (35 in each group), the average age of intervention group participants was 53.00 +/- 11.18 years, and the average age of the control group was 50.74 +/- 13.72 years; 19 (54.3%) in the intervention group and 18 (51.4%) in the control group were male. Neither the demographic data nor the GRISS scale scores were significantly different between groups at baseline. After discharge, patients in the intervention group called to receive counseling for their concerns regarding sexual life and challenges they experienced with their stoma an average of 3.57 +/- 0.86 (range 2-5) times during the first 6 weeks and 6.52 +/- 77 (range 5-8) times between weeks 6 and 12. Mean total and subscale GRISS scores improved significantly from 5.89 +/- 1.33 to 7.33 +/- 1.24 (P < .01).