- Question from Rachel: I can't stand my body any more. I'm overweight. I'm dry as a bone. I have no desire. I have no energy. Where do I start?
I think we all feel that at various times. We don't have to feel good about our bodies to engage in some sexual activity if we're with a partner who feels very cut off if there's not. Also, some sexual activity can make us feel better about our body just as it is.
Lots of lubricants make a difference. Negligees make a difference. Satin sheets, low lights, being in a bathtub together where you don't see each other so much, being outside in the dark where it adds some different element that takes you away from focusing on how negative you feel about your body.
I think we do have to pleasure our bodies to begin to like them again, pleasuring them through something simple like stretching and baths and massage. Sometimes, dieting and exercise feel like another drain on you or like a punishment.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Don't assume that your negative feelings about your body are shared by your partner. Usually they're in your own head and your partner is just waiting for a signal or a clue that says you're interested in physical contact or any kind of sexual intimacy.
- Su Kenderdine I think we get confused that sex is all about beauty, and I believe it's really not. When we're very young, I think, beauty is a key piece in arousal. But I don't think society's subjective look is a key piece in touching.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Your vagina responds to your mind and your feelings about yourself, so if you feel like "damaged goods," too heavy, or in any way undesirable, your vagina will stay relatively dry and unreceptive. You'd be surprised how a little change in how you see yourself can result in more wetness, more elasticity in your vagina through your own body's sexual response. That connects how you feel with your whole sexual response "team."
- Su Kenderdine I think that more emphasis on sexual stimulation to ears, to eyelids, to the back of the neck, to the armpits, to the belly and the bellybutton, to the inner thigh, and to the buttocks and to the feet can begin to add to our arousal and our connectedness—our sex being connected to all of our body, if you will. The poor vagina feels like it's taking the whole load, and it may not have to. You bring in a lot of other ways to begin to feel good about the sex and intimacy.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Some women find that they can get stimulated and more in the mood with erotic literature or with videotapes or even some of the sex toys. I recommend looking at goodvibes.com and the store Toys in Babeland (www.babeland.com).
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Sleep or Sex? You Can Have Both! featured Carroll Kenderdine, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how to maintain sexual intimacy during and after treatment, what to do for loss of libido and vaginal dryness, ways to reduce the fatigue related to breast cancer, and more.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in May 2004.
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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