- Question from Alex: My husband has been very supportive throughout my ordeal. However, when we're intimate I'm very self-conscious about him touching me where my breast used to be. How can I change these feelings?
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
It's normal to be self-conscious. You've had a significant change in your body as well as the loss of a body part that was very sensual. Some of my patients tell their partners to limit their touching to the side where the breast is still there. Over time, as things normalize and get better, you may feel more confident about how attractive you are, and you may choose to invite your partner to begin touching the area where your breast used to be.
I have a patient who had a double mastectomy. At the time of her surgery, she was unmarried and without a boyfriend. Later on, she ended up meeting a great guy, and she learned to feel comfortable with him touching both sides of her chest. Interestingly, he ended up finding an erogenous zone in her armpit!
The main thing is, don't assume that if you feel unattractive, your partner feels the same. Usually your partner finds you just as attractive as before, but is likely to sense your awkwardness and become awkward as well. Good communication is the key to getting over this hurdle.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Taking Care of Yourself featured Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about exercise and nutrition, and other things you can do to nurture your body, along with strategies for finding emotional support, boosting your mood, and feeling good again.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in May 2003.
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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