If you have survived cancer, you might feel very grateful just to be alive. But as time and healing goes on intimacy does begin to matter. So should you expect the same quality of sex life as before?
The very idea of sex may make you feel apprehensive. Many people notice a loss of desire for sex after cancer treatment. Some people don’t, everyone’s different. Having cancer can alter the way you feel about your body and ultimately about sex. If you’re in a relationship and want to get back to intimacy the key is to build physical connection into your lives so that you can continue to experience closeness.
One lady in her 60’s describes what sex was like for her and her husband in his 70’s, after he had prostrate cancer:
“My husband lost his desire for sex after a prostate cancer operation. Things definitely changed after the upheaval ‘down there’ caused by radiotherapy and hormone treatment. What we did was book time into our lives to have physical contact, even if it meant just a cuddle on the sofa. We also put aside time at weekends for a lie-in and he was able to pay attention to my sexual needs. Sex didn’t happen at all in the way it used to. It requires more attention but it’s very, very satisfying. It just shows that if you remain open and adapt to the changes, how your physical relationship can grow significantly”.
After all you have been through with cancer and treatment, building a new sex life may feel like too much bother, but it’s an investment in yourself and your relationship. Your body may not look or feel like it did before, but you are still you. Desire and intimacy can return if you take the time to explore new possibilities for it.
A women living with breast cancer shares her story with us: “I’d lost confidence in my body after cancer. Especially since I no longer had breasts, it made me feel less of a woman. Using the Mikazuki helped me gain confidence in my body and begin to be intimate with my partner again. The softness made it much more comfortable to use than the standard medical dilators. It has helped me achieve orgasms, which through years of treatment, I haven’t been able to have. Getting intimate again has helped my whole person and giving us something back we never thought we’d have again after cancer.”
How to create more intimacy after cancer treatment:
Talking – It is important that you both talk about what you want and your feelings about sex, it’s important to be aware of what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Talking therapy – If you feel unable to talk to your partner about your sex life after cancer, there is support available. Ask your cancer nurse or doctor, they may be able to answer your questions or refer you to a counsellor.
Cuddling – Just taking time to talk and touch and cuddle is important to build closeness and intimacy.
Gentle stroking – Taking time to enjoy each others touch can reduce anxiety and feelings of low self worth after cancer.
Kissing – On the mouth or body can help re-awaken feelings of arousal.
Massage – this is a great way for couples to explore their bodies using soft touch. Also using a gentle medically approved silicone vibrating massager such as the Mikazuki can help re-awaken nerves in the pelvic area after cancer treatment.
Post cancer sex products – For those experiencing tightness or pain in the pelvic area you can try the Midori to help you relax and explore sensitive areas without the fear of penetration. For men, the Pleasure Solutions Flip Top is ideal for masturbation without the need of an erection. Or for those with erection problems post cancer the Pleasure Solutions Vacuum Controller or Air Tec Cup can help.
Has your sex life been affected by cancer or cancer treatment? We’d love to hear from you, any comments can be left anonymously.