What's responsible for loss of sex drive?

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Question from molly284: I love my husband, but since my lumpectomy, chemo, tamox (and Paxil for the hot flashes) and rads, I don't seem to have any sexual desire. My husband feels that I'm rejecting him even though I explain that my body is changing. (it's only been a year since everything began). So, what I'm asking is, is the tamox responsible for my lack of sex drive or is it psychological or is it a combination of everything that's happened?
Answers - David Spiegel It is undoubtedly in part physiological. Many patients going through these treatments have artificially induced menopause. And because hormone levels are deliberately kept low, their sexual drive may in fact be reduced. In a way, though, this is the converse of the problem some other women were talking about, which was having trouble getting their husbands interested in them. It is good that he is interested in you and he is feeling some frustration if you are not up to it. It is a balance of listening to your body and doing what you feel like doing. It is also your reaction to the illness rather than the physiological change. You acknowledge your desire for your husband but you aren't pushed into something you don't want to do.

Editor's Note: Paxil (chemical name: paroxetine) is known to reduce the effectiveness of tamoxifen. If you are taking tamoxifen, talk to your doctor about alternatives to Paxil. For more information, please visit the Breastcancer.org Tamoxifen page.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. All of the changes that you experience with breast cancer came on quite abruptly, but the solution for returning to a new sense of normal will happen much more gradually, and with a lot more work. So it will take a lot of patience, listening, and talking in a way with your husband that you may not have ever talked before.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Feelings about Breast Cancer featured David Spiegel, Ph.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about the emotional effects of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2000.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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