Sexual health and cancer
Sexual health involves communication, closeness and intimacy, as well as physical sexual activity. Cancer and cancer treatment can affect how you feel, and may change how you look and how your body works. Some of these changes are temporary (chemotherapy side effects) and sometimes the changes are permanent (some surgical procedures). Being able to talk about intimacy, affection and sexual wellbeing may benefit you and your significant other, here are a few resources that can help.
- "Sex and the Woman With Cancer" by American Cancer Society
- “Sexuality for the Man with Cancer” by American Cancer Society
- “Female Sexual Health After Cancer” by LiveSTRONG
- “Male Sexual Health After Cancer” by LiveSTRONG
- “Sexuality and Reproductive Issues” by the National Cancer Institute
- “Facing Cancer Together” by the American Psychological Association
Treating sexual discomfort
Each person's diagnosis, cancer stage, and response to treatment can be different. For this reason, each patient needs a personal plan to address sexual health. You, your significant other, and your healthcare team can work together to manage your symptoms. Please be sure to bring up any sexual health issues with your oncologist and your nurse. Your social worker can help you with some techniques to communicate to your partner and/or your medical team.
Many cancers and cancer treatments can have a negative impact on fertility and your desire to have a family in the future. There are some steps you can take to preserve your fertility but you usually have to act quickly as your doctor will likely want to start your treatment for cancer as soon as possible. Make sure you speak with your oncologist about your desire to preserve fertility and get their guidance and recommendations. Here are a few resources that can help you make decisions.