- Question from Shiloh: I am three years out from treatment, and intimacy and sex have gone by the wayside. I am taking tamoxifen and my libido is gone. It was suggested to use an Estradiol vaginal ring to help with the vaginal dryness. When I read about the contraindications, it really concerned me. My oncologist does not want me to use soy products, so what am I to do? I would love to get that old feeling back.
- Answers - Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. There are two separate problems here. One is your desire for sex, and two is the vaginal dryness. As we said earlier, the Estring is being used by many breast cancer survivors as one of the safest ways to get some estrogen to the vagina without much getting into the bloodstream. There is still some controversy about its safety, however. The Estring will not help your desire for sex, although if intercourse is dry and painful, that certainly may be part of the problem. Estradiol does not act in the brain to promote sexual desire. Some natural ways to promote desire may include thinking about what put you in the mood for sex before. For some women, that could be dancing or playing tennis or seeing a movie with a great love scene or spending a quiet evening just talking and cuddling with their mate. Sometimes these activities have dropped out of your life. If you put a high priority on taking time for intimacy and closeness, it may help your sex life return to normal.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Having fun together, doing non-sexual things outside the bedroom, will definitely help you re-kindle a sense of fun and desire in the bedroom. It's also okay--perfectly normal--to fantasize before and during sex. If you haven't done this in the past, now might be a time that you could experiment with this. There are many stores out there that sell all kinds of tricks and playful items that may help you along your way. Be open minded, and realize that this important aspect of your life will take time to restore.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Intimacy and Sexuality featured Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how breast cancer diagnosis and treatment affect your sex life.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2001.
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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