Sex After Breast Cancer
by Amy Scholten, MPH
During breast cancer treatment, many people are concerned about sex problems. It helps to know possible problems ahead of time. This can help you handle them as they come up.
Dealing With Vaginal Dryness
One side effect of chemotherapy can be vaginal dryness. This is due to early menopause caused by damage to the ovaries. Dryness can make sex painful or difficult. Here are some tips
Sex After a Mastectomy
A mastectomy can affect your sex life. It is okay to mourn what you lost. It can take a while to adjust to the way you look and feel. Here are some tips:
Communication and humor are your best tools for rebuilding your sex life. If you and your partner keep having problems, a sex therapist may be able to help you.
Getting Into the Mood
For many reasons you may not feel like having sex. Perhaps you are too tired from treatment. There are exercises that may help you feel more in the mood. There is no pressure for genital contact or orgasm until you are ready. Try these steps with your partner:
The sensations you share might include soft kissing, light touching, or massage. Use any type of touch that you or your partner enjoy. You may need to try a new way of having sex. Use the time to explore each other and make new connections. These steps may lead you to sexual intercourse and orgasm.
Not Feeling Ready
Do not forget the most important point. If you do not feel like having sex, you do not have to.
With or without sex, you can still have a loving, deep, close relationship. Keep an open mind. When you are ready, work your way slowly toward sexual intimacy.
American Cancer Society
Breast Cancer Action
Canadian Cancer Society
Women's Health Matters
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/breast-cancer-in-women. Accessed October 20, 2021.
Facing forward; life after cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/life-after-treatment.pdf. Accessed October 20, 2021.
Hungr C, Sanchez-Varela V, Bober SL. Self-image and sexuality issues among young women with breast cancer: practical recommendations. Rev Invest Clin. 2017;69(2):114-122.
Sex and the adult female with cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/fertility-and-sexual-side-effects/sexuality-for-women-with-cancer.html. Accessed October 20, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/19/2021
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