There is a lot to consider in cancer care – appointments, medication, self-care – so sex and intimacy may not be a priority. However, maintaining a healthy, fulfilling physical and emotional connection during treatment can often aid recovery. Emotional intimacy and physical touch have been shown to have healing effects, and feelings of love and support can be of tremendous importance during illness.
One thing to keep in mind about sex during treatment is that it may not look or feel the same as it did before, and that’s fine. With honest and open communication, you can maintain a connection with your partner even during this difficult time.
Cancer and Your Sex Life
There aren’t many types of cancer that rule out sexual activity, but there are some that your doctor may advise you to use caution with. For example, patients undergoing bone marrow treatment have extremely weakened immune systems. That doesn’t mean you can’t have sex. But you can experience it differently by taking extra precautions against infection. Penetrative sex may not be possible for people with prostate cancer because erectile dysfunction is often associated with prostate cancer treatment. It doesn’t have to mean giving up, but things may need to be changed.
Cancer treatment can lead to early menopause in some women because the suppression of estrogen leads to a decrease in libido, thinning of vaginal tissue, and less lubrication. Maybe you don’t want to have sex at all, or you may not feel ready for the way you used to have sex. Try to see this as an opportunity to explore and find joy in new types of intimacy with your partner instead of dealing with the changes in your body.
Communication is the key
Many patients shy away from discussing sexual health problems during cancer treatment. For this time, the American Cancer Society offers a wealth of resources, including sexual health brochures for men and women, to use as a starting point for understanding the changes in your body during cancer treatment and for starting a conversation about sex with a doctor or health care professional Female doctor can serve partner.
Therapists and counselors can also help by facilitating communication between you and your partner or suggesting new ways to experience touch and intimacy. For example, take the focus away from orgasm, which can be difficult for some cancer patients to achieve. Instead, look to foreplay, fondling, kissing, or hugging to show each other love while relieving the pressure.
It is important that you do not compare your sex life to your sex life beforehand, or compare yourself to other people undergoing treatment. Every person, cancer case, and relationship is unique. That adds up to many variables when it comes to your relationship, but it also means many reasons to be positive and hopeful. Cancer doesn’t have to be a limitation. In fact, it can help you and your partner have intimacy in exciting new ways.
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