Sex Life After Cancer

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they doubt whether they can return to a “normal” life after surgery and other treatments. Many times people also have doubts about how their sex life will be affected.

In this article, I tried to answer all your questions about sexual life after cancer. 

Sex, intercourse and sexuality with life partner or other partners are as important for cancer patients as it is for all people. Studies have shown that maintaining sexual life and emotional intimacy in cancer patients is an important factor in coping with the stress of cancer treatment.

However, being treated for cancer can seriously affect the structure of people’s genitals, sexual desire, sexual function and body image, and patients may need counseling on this issue.

In this regard, it is recommended that patients be open to the physician they receive treatment and other healthcare professionals and ask questions without hesitation. Other problems dealt with during cancer treatment may prevent health professionals from focusing on these issues.

Questions to Ask About Sexual Life After Cancer

  • How will the treatment process affect my sex life?
  • Is there any obstacle for me to be together sexually at the moment? How soon can I have sexual intercourse?
  • Is there a form of intercourse that I should especially avoid in sexual life?
  • Do I need contraception? Are birth control pills suitable for contraception?
  • Do I run the risk of infecting my wife with anything when I’m with her?
  • What precautions should I take for a safe sex life and how long should it last?

You should be able to ask your doctor without hesitation about this and any other question that comes to your mind!

It is inevitable that there will be many questions about sexuality after treatment, especially in women with cancers of the female reproductive systems (uterine cancer / endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer (ovarian cancer), cervical cancer (cervical cancer) and breast cancer.

Since the uterus, ovaries, vagina and breast are female-specific organs and are under the direct influence of the female hormone estrogen, a cancer that develops in one of these organs may affect other systems and cause problems in the patient’s sexual life.

Uterine Cancer: After surgery to remove the uterus and ovaries (hysterectomy) in patients with uterine cancer, the amount of estrogen, a female hormone, may decrease, leading to menopause and problems such as vaginal dryness may occur in these patients. Likewise, sexual problems such as vaginal stenosis may occur in patients who receive radiation therapy after surgery.

Cervical cancer: Patients who have undergone radical hysterectomy for the treatment of cervical cancer, in which a part of the uterus and ovaries and a part of the vagina are extensively removed, may experience orgasm problems due to nerve damage caused by this surgery. Serious vaginal stenosis problems may occur in patients who receive radiotherapy after surgery.

Ovarian cancer: In the treatment of ovarian cancer, the uterus and ovaries are routinely removed, and the resulting hormonal irregularity may cause vaginal dryness and pain during sexual intercourse in women. In patients who have undergone extensive surgery called “Debulking” for advanced ovarian cancer, sometimes a part of the intestines may be protruded and patients may not know how sexual intercourse will be possible in the presence of a colostomy or ileostomy.

Breast Cancer: The breast is a very important sexual organ for women, as well as a symbol of the body. Removal of a breast in women with breast cancer can damage women’s sexual image and alienate them from sexuality. These patients should be counseled on the possibilities of prosthetics and other corrective surgeries.

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