As the most common malignancy affecting women within the United States, breast cancer can bring about multiple physical and psychological challenges. Among the greatest challenges are those associated with female sexual function. In this article, we discuss some of the specific challenges that present with each type of treatment and the socio-physical impact they have on survivorship.
Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series on the sexual aftermath of cancer treatment. If you missed our Aug. Sex was the furthest thing from my mind when a breast cancer surgeon told me I needed a double mastectomy five years ago.
Some general changes in sexual desire and response may be linked to cancer and cancer treatment. Specific changes linked to certain types of treatment are covered in more detail in the next sections. Both men and women often lose interest in sexual activity during cancer treatment, at least for a time.
Perhaps the most frustrating change in your sexual life is the loss of libido, of "those urges. No wonder you're not feeling sexy. Your sex life may be altered by vaginal pain resulting from breast cancer treatment, especially after bone marrow transplantation.
Chemotherapy, or chemo, is often given through an intravenous IV tube, which sends it through a vein right into the bloodstream. But sometimes the drugs are sent right to the tumor. For cancer of the bladder, for example, the chemo drug is put right into the bladder through a small, soft tube called a catheter.
Find out if you're at risk of sexual side effects after cancer treatment and which cancer treatments can cause these side effects. Treatment for certain cancers can affect your sexuality, causing a range of signs and symptoms that can make sex with your partner more difficult. But that doesn't mean you can't have a healthy sex life after cancer treatment.
Can I stay sexually active during cancer? Is cancer sexually transmitted? Can I still have sex after a hysterectomy?
Skip to Content. You may experience physical and emotional changes during and after treatment. These may affect your desire and ability to have sex. Even treatments not targeting reproductive organs may affect your:.
You may not think about the impact on your self-esteem, body image, relationships and sex life until treatment is over. You can find ways to live a fulfilling life while managing longer-term treatment for cancer. It is normal to feel a range of emotions when dealing with cancer and its treatment.
What could be the cause of decreased sex drive in breast cancer survivors? In addition to the side effects of chemotherapy and hormonal treatments, loss of a breast, depression and worries about the return of cancer may play a role. Learn more about how chemo affects sexual desire and intimacy. What with all the side effects I had during chemotherapy, I really wasn't in the mood for sex very often.