A group of 66 patients (40 males, 26 females) underwent an ileal conduit urinary diversion because of bladder cancer (44 patients) or incontinence/bladder dysfunction (22). They were questioned about pre- and post-operative sexual function and activity and it was found that 90% of the males (26/29) who were sexually active before surgery lost the ability to achieve erection following radical cystectomy. Although they were unable to achieve penile erection, 41% were able to experience orgasm by means of masturbation. Five of the 29 males received penile implants. Five of the 6 females treated by cystectomy, who were sexually active before the operation, reported either a decrease or cessation of sexual activity (i.e. coitus) post-operatively. The main problems were a decrease in sexual desire, dyspareunia and vaginal dryness. One women reported the inability to experience orgasm after surgery. Compared with women with bladder cancer, those with incontinence/bladder dysfunction were more likely to have an active sexual life after urostomy surgery. Seven females in this group, of whom 4 were sexually inactive before surgery, increased their sexual activity after the operation. For these women the conduit operation removed the need to use incontinence pads or indwelling catheters.