Cancer’s Effects on Sexual Health

How Hormones Impact Libido
If you are a cancer survivor, chances are you are not alone in feeling that intimacy has been impacted.  Many women who suffer with, and have undergone treatment for breast, uterine, cervical and/or ovarian cancer often feel alone and isolated as they try to navigate sex and intimacy in their relationships.  These cancers can make a woman feel as though her body has betrayed her, and that she has lost a piece of her sexuality.  Then, compounded with treatments that often deplete the body of important sexual hormones, this feeling may be even more magnified. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can all lead to body image issues. Other problems can also develop such as decreased libido and anxiety with depression, all of which can become major driving factors that negatively impact sexuality. 

Addressing Your Mental Health
Since difficulty with intimacy in relationships can grow over time, it is crucial to address it early on.  A woman undergoing any kind of treatment for gynecologic cancer should be offered adequate support in the form of a mental health care provider.  This may be a therapist, social worker, psychiatrist or other clinician. Many providers now specialize in the treatment of sexual problems for cancer survivors, so make sure to ask for this type of referral if is it is available.  The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, as well as the International Society for the Study for Women’s Sexual Health, and of course, the clinicians at Maze Women’s Health all fit into this category.   

Support For Partners
Unfortunately, cancer not only affects the woman with the disease – but her partner as well.  Open communication with a partner is necessary in allowing for him/her to better assist in navigating your cancer journey alongside you. Partners are often unsure and frankly scared to broach sexuality, and may retreat or wait for cues about when to resume an intimate or sexual relationship. Honesty is the key to understanding, and your partner will appreciate the guidance in what is a challenging time for everyone involved.

A cancer diagnosis is hard.  No doubt about it.  However, support is available and you do not have to go through it alone. Reach out for help, and someone who is qualified and cares will be there to answer your call.  For information about low libido, sex therapy, or any other sexual heath concerns, contact us for a free phone consultation. The clinicians at Maze Women’s Health would be honored to be those people.

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