Breast Cancer and Your Libido
by Véronique Larivière, sexologist
published October 17, 2008
rating: (120 Ratings)
It goes without saying that a breast cancer diagnosis is a difficult trial for any woman—her physical, psychological, and even sexual well-being can all be affected. Divine.ca is here to help you learn about how to counteract the effects of illness on intimacy—because information is always your best ally in any situation, for you or someone you care about.
The impact of treatment on your libido
Cancer treatments often have serious side effects that can modify a woman’s libido and her sexual life. Nausea, pain, anxiety, stress, and fatigue can alter the frequency and quality of sexual relations, as well as the intensity of orgasms.
At the same time, chemotherapy can trigger the same symptoms as menopause: heat flashes, irregular menstrual cycles, and vaginal dryness even in the presence of sexual desire. What’s more, the hair loss often associated with chemotherapy can have a direct impact on self-esteem. A lowering of a woman’s sex drive is often the result, and even the prospect of sexual relations can become fraught with anxiety.
Lastly, enduring a mastectomy (the partial or total removal of a breast or breasts) is a traumatic experience in many cases. After surgery, it can be difficult for a woman to accept the changes to her body that she sees in her mirror, and to reveal her altered body to her partner. Many women even prefer to remain clothed during sexual relations, in an attempt to deal with the discomfort.
When treatment is over, sexual difficulties connected to stress and anxiety can disappear on their own. But there’s no need to put sexuality aside during treatment, waiting for the problem to resolve itself. A fulfilling sexual life is possible both during and after treatment, by following four easy, guiding principles.
The importance of communication
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