Will libido return after treatment?

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Question from Kate: I'm 36 and had a healthy libido before receiving chemotherapy (Adriamycin and Cytoxan). I still have Taxol, radiation, and Herceptin to go. Will my libido return? When?
Answers - Lynn Schuchter Another great question, and yes, your libido will return but there's no doubt that the diagnosis of breast cancer and the treatment are altering your libido. There are so many different factors that affect our interest in sex, whether we feel sexy, whether we're interested in sex and so many of those factors occur at the same time for a woman who's diagnosed with breast cancer. So the chemotherapy and the medicines to prevent nausea and the fatigue associated with these treatments can profoundly affect one's interest in sex. Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel) is not going to help this, but you will recover. While you're taking Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab), that has much fewer side effects so we'd anticipate that after the chemotherapy part of your treatment, your libido should return. If it doesn't, there are explanations in terms of how these treatments affect your hormone levels and whether you end up on hormonal therapies. This would be another good conversation to have with your oncologist or gynecologist. It is important to discuss this, because there are sometimes treatments we can consider. Vaginal dryness is not an uncommon side effect of these treatments, and there are strategies to deal with this. So it's important to pursue this and discuss it with your physicians if you're comfortable, or the nurse. We recognize that this is important and that it is a consequence of treatment. I think many physicians now have a greater sensitivity to this topic.
Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. Again, I refer you to last month's online conference where we touched on some of these issues which are so important.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Young Women and Breast Cancer feautred Lynn Schuchter, M.D. and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answering your questions about the special concerns of young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in April 2006.

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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