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Talking with your Doctor about Sexuality

Posted 4/8/2015

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  In all honesty, I am still feeling emotionally exhausted from recent losses (see yesterday's entry) and have been thinking about a blog for today that would be easy and interesting. Coming across this piece about talking with your doctor about sexuality seems to fit the bill.

  Of course we know that this is often not an easy conversation and that some doctors are more informed and comfortable than others For example, one of our senior oncologists asked me this week what I knew about safe sex during chemotherapy. The good news was that the question was asked; the less good news is that it had be asked. (the answer, should you be wondering, is that both oral and vaginal sex are considered to be safe except when the patient is neutropenic). When I share information about intimacy with our physician group, there are only two or three who are reliably interested. In everyone else's defense, there is so much that needs to be understood and discussed with patients that sex can go to the bottom of the list--unless the patient brings it further up the hierarchy. If you try to have this discussion and learn that your doctor is either ill informed or awkward, ask to speak with someone else. Oncology social workers and many nurses are good cancer sex educators.

  Here is a brief article from Cancer Net; it includes links to a video:

Talking With Your Doctor About Sexual Health
· Cat Snyder, ASCO staff

Maintaining open and honest communication with your doctor is an important
part of your care. In fact, research has shown that people who have a good
relationship with their doctor tend to be more satisfied with the care they
receive. However, starting some conversations can be difficult. So to get the ball
rolling, the Cancer.Net Blog created this series for doctors to share their tips
and insights for discussing a number of potentially sensitive or difficult subjects
that might come up during diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.
Many people being treated for cancer and cancer survivors have concerns or
even anxiety about changes to their bodies and their sexual health. These
topics can be difficult to talk openly about with your partner or a friend, let alone
a health care professional.
In this video, Dr. Don S. Dizon, an oncologist from Massachusetts General Hospital, examines some of the
sexual concerns you may face during or after cancer treatment. He talks about both the physical and
emotional side effects of cancer that may affect your sexual health, which largely differ for men and women.
Most importantly, he provides practical guidance for having this sensitive conversation with your doctor.
Sexuality, intimacy, body image, and arousal are all delicate topics. Finding ways to be comfortable talking
about them can help your recovery and quality of life. It is possible to share your concerns with your doctor
without exposing private details.

Link to video:


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