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Sexuality after Cancer

Posted 9/8/2016

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  Yes, I have written about this topic many times in the past. And, yes, sadly there is not much new to add. But that is not a reason to stop raising the subject. Just about everyone experiences some changes to his/her sexuality and intimate relationship after cancer. If you are really lucky, there may be some things that are even better: tenderness, renewed appreciation of the love you share, a true partnership in dealing with this new time of life. I do know that this is surely not a universal reaction, and most couples do have to contend with changes in how their bodies look and function as well as many additional stresses and worries.

  When I give talks about this, I often include the light comments that Cancer never really improved anyone's sex life  and  you never see a personal note that includes "had cancer" along with  "likes fine wine and walking on the beach at night."  

  It is so terribly important that we understand and recognize the changes and that we can talk openly with our partner about them. It would help if the conversation were a standard part of care from our doctors, but it's not. There are several reasons for that: there are so many other cancer-related things that have to be discussed during medical visits and often both the doctor and the patient are not so comfortable asking about orgasms.

  This is a really good article from the Fred Hutch Cancer Center in Seattle:

The sexual aftermath of cancer

Diane Mapes

From impotence to ‘chemopause’ to missing body parts, treatment side effects can mess with patients’ sex lives — why don’t we talk about it more?

Sex was the furthest thing from my mind when a breast cancer surgeon told me I needed a double mastectomy five years ago.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been.

No matter what kind of cancer you have, the surgery and treatment you go through will have a profound effect on all aspects of your life, including your sex life. From changes in body image to erectile dysfunction to excised bits and pieces, things just don’t quite work the same for many after a cancer diagnosis. But for whatever reason, most of us talk about the mechanics of sex about as readily as we talk about the mechanics of other normal, healthy functions like, say, pooping.

My doctors didn’t bring it up, so neither did I.

Luckily, I’d reached out to other patients so I had an inkling of what was to come. I knew that even a nipple-sparing mastectomy would eliminate two key players on the team, leaving my chest a dead zone — no nerves, no feeling, nothing. But not all breast cancer patients know this going in. I still hear horror stories about women who have mastectomies then turn to their doctors in puzzlement when their skin and/or nipples remain numb.

Read more and note that there is a link to read Part 2:


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