- Question from SashaT: I have no desire to be sexual with my partner since my cancer surgery. Is this normal? Will this always be the case, or am I losing my mind?
- Answers - Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. It is very common for women to notice a loss of desire for sex after their breast cancer treatment. The treatment that most commonly affects sexual desire is actually chemotherapy, but any woman who is going through breast cancer treatment may notice changes like that. Sometimes it is helpful to think about medications that you're taking. Many women take anti-depressant medicine or anti-anxiety medicine or medicine for nausea or pain, and all of those medications can temporarily decrease desire for sex. Of course, there are also the issues of body image and feeling less attractive after surgery. Many women have distracting thoughts about their breast cancer when they're trying to make love.
- Debra Thaler-DeMers If the surgery has been recent, there are also issues of physical discomfort as well as psychological and emotional discomfort with the surgery site. It's important to talk to your partner about what you're feeling and keep the lines of communication open.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Sometimes it's helpful to do a quick personal survey, from head to toe, to get a sense of what specifically may be taking away your desire. For example, do you no longer feel sexy? Do you have new vaginal dryness that makes sex uncomfortable? Do you feel rejected by your partner? Or is your biggest fantasy a good night's sleep? If you can identify the things that are most bothersome, it becomes a little bit easier to start on creating a solution. I think one of the things that becomes so difficult is having to work to have sex. Maybe not that long ago it was much easier to have fun that way. Now the extra effort might just be more than you can handle, and as Debra and Leslie will echo this evening, your mind is probably your most powerful sex organ, and keeping the communication going can make an enormous difference.
- Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. As you can see, you're certainly not crazy.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Intimacy, Sex and Your Love Life featured Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D., Debra Thaler-DeMers, R.N., O.C.N., P.H.N., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how to improve your sex life during and after breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2002.
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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