beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Impoving your Sex Life

Posted 7/5/2016

Posted in

  As I have written many times before and as we all know, cancer is never a sexual aide. If we are lucky, cancer does not greatly diminish our intimate relationship, but almost everyone experiences some changes. There are very real side effects from cancer treatment that makes us feel sickish or peevish or not fully sexualized. And there are very real physical changes that may be permanent--think mastectomy or ostomy or "just" lots of scars. And, maybe most importantly, there are very real psychological changes that can inhibit our happiness and pleasure.

  This is a good article from Harvard Women's Health Watch that nicely summarizes the situation. It probably does not say anything that you don't already know, but it includes some tips and surely normalizes whatever your may be feeling.

Don’t accept a diminished sex life as a “side effect” of illness

Living with a chronic condition or as a survivor of cancer or a heart attack needn't take a toll on intimate relationships.

Sexual satisfaction is an important part of well-being, yet women who have been successfully treated for cancer or are living with chronic conditions often accept a diminished sex life as a trade-off for being alive. "Women with cancer go through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation in order to be alive, but once they're through treatment they may not feel as though they are really living to the fullest," says Dr. Sharon Bober, a psychologist at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Women with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis may also feel that their health issues have eroded their intimate relationships.

Sexual problems aren't topics people are comfortable discussing, Dr. Bober says. Moreover, doctors and other providers may not bring up such issues because they lack a plan for addressing them. While counseling can be helpful, not everyone needs a consultation from an expert. The websites of several organizations, including the American Cancer Society ( ), the American College of Rheumatology ( ), the American Diabetes Association ( ), and the American Heart Association (, have good information on sexual health.

Common issues

The sexual issues associated with chronic illness are often difficult to tease apart from those related to menopause and aging because both tend to occur in middle age and later. The factors that contribute to a loss of interest in sex or decline of intimacy between partners might include flagging libido or pain during intercourse,

Read more:


Add your comment