After a successful battle against cancer, it’s natural that one might want a sense of normalcy. Many cancer survivors want nothing more than to return to the way things were before their diagnoses. In some respects, this is easy. Other aspects of life, however, require some adjustment from the person in remission as well as his or her loved ones.
Sex is one such complicated aspect. Once in remission, some cancer survivors might find it difficult to cultivate a sexual relationship with their partners. Below are only a few of the symptoms that might result from cancer treatment:
• Severely decreased sex drive • Pelvic pain, if survivors had surgery in that area • Erectile dysfunction in men • Reduced or zero testosterone in men • Vaginal dryness or pain in women • Reduced or zero estrogen in women
Any one of these symptoms might make sex uncomfortable or unpleasant for those in remission. If multiple symptoms occur at once, sex might seem impossible! This is a monumental challenge, but it’s entirely possible to overcome.
The first step is to take things slowly. Don’t try to jump back into your previous sex life immediately, despite how tempted or frustrated you might feel. Be honest with your partner about your current situation. The two of you can then work together and develop a comrpomise. It’s possible to be sexual without sex, after all. Brainstorm ways you can feel intimate with each other without intercourse. Go on a date, take a bath, or simply touch each other softly. Get creative! When you find a strategy that works for both of you, you’ll be able to please each other until your body heals and your sex drive returns.
Don’t be afraid to consult your doctor, either. They could help you understand why you feel a certain way and even offer some solutions. If you’re suffering from low testosterone or estrogen levels, supplements exist that could help fix the balance. There are other medications to mitigate erectile dysfunction and vaginal discomfort. Medical professionals understand these issues and can offer a myriad of solutions. If you want someone to help you through the complex emotions that can stem from this scenario, you can also speak to a counselor or therapist. Even if you’re physically healthy, it’s important to care for your mind as well!
Again, don’t jump into regular sex if you feel uncomfortable in some way. Solve problems one step at a time and allow yourself plenty of time to heal. You’re in the remission phase, so you still have plenty of time left for love, passion, and pleasure.
Sources:
https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/fertility-andsexual-side-effects/sexuality-for-women-with-cancer/cancer-sex-sexuality.html
https://www.curetoday.com/publications/cure/2010/summer2010/sex-and-intimacy-after-cancer
https://www.oncolink.org/support/sexuality-fertility/sexuality/men-s-guide-to-sexuality-duringafter-cancer-treatment
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-treatment/art-20047214