Sexuality and Cancer Treatment
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work
MARCH 20, 2017
This is another frequent topic, but one that deserves more attention than it usually gets in Cancer World. As we have discussed, concerns about sexuality are usually low on the list for meetings with our doctors. There are a number of reasons: the huge amount of information that needs to be addressed, the discomfort with the topic, the reality that there aren't a lot of good solutions. Or actually that there aren't a lot of solutions at all.
This is a good overview about women and sexuality and cancer treatment from ASCO's Cancer Net. It does focus on the physical and says not enough about the emotional component--but that can await another day.
Sexuality and Cancer Treatment: Women
Common concerns about sexual health Even treatments that don’t affect your reproductive organs can affect your body image, mood, energy, level, and sense of well-being. Issues with sexual health that may arise because of treatment include:
Decrease or loss of sexual desire
Inability to achieve or maintain sexual arousal
Decreased or absent lubrication
Inability or difficulty to achieve an orgasm
Pain during sex
Increased unpleasant sensations or numbness in the genitals
It is common for sexual problems to develop during treatment, directly after treatment, or years later.
Talk with a member of your healthcare team about your symptoms. This includes any new ones or a change in symptoms.