Maintaining intimacy and connection with your partner during and after cancer treatment can be challenging. That special connection is important for wellbeing and helps us to live life to the full. There is much that can be done to rebuild and revitalise relationships.
We sometimes lose sight of how to maintain an intimate connection with our partner. The busyness of our lives and the normal ebb and flow of desire over long-term relationships can be enough to erode time and enthusiasm for intimacy. The added demands of a cancer diagnosis – with a schedule of appointments and treatments – are an additional complication.
But it’s not just about time. There is much to adjust to psychologically; how we feel and how we think about ourselves, our relationships and our bodies can change. Our initial focus is necessarily on survival and adjusting to the shock of a cancer diagnosis. As we progress through treatment, and start to consider our futures, there are new issues and emotions to process. These thoughts can be difficult to share with those we love.
Sex and Cancer treatment side-effects
The physical realities of cancer and cancer treatment can leave us feeling tired and nauseous. Surgery leaves it’s mark and our bodies are no longer the same. Hormone therapy impacts on desire and performance; bodies no longer work like they used to.
It is quite safe to kiss and touch and have sex during chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Why is it so difficult to talk about sex?
Talking about sex and intimacy is difficult for all of us. It’s difficult because it is important. We need to spend time properly talking about sex, about dry vaginas or penises that we can no longer respond as we want them to. Instead, we make jokes and hope it will magically get sorted out.
Sex and intimacy become the elephant in the room.
What is sex really about?
Sex is about love, connection, fun, commitment and life. It’s worth taking the time to talk about. Human beings are incredibly resilient. We can learn new ways of being, new ways of connecting. Sometimes we just need someone to help us to start the conversation.
Sometimes need to be reminded that pleasure is more important than performance.
Dr Tonia Mezzini is a Sexual Health Physician with a special interest in helping patients and their partners to navigate this challenging time.
During her medical career she has worked in a variety of sexual health clinics as well as working in Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology and Palliative Care.
Dr Tonia Mezzini is known for offering the best possible advice and treatment options for a person’s sexual health care needs. In particular, she cares for patients with:
- Vulval pain syndromes and vulval skin conditions
- Low libido and pain with intercourse
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Gender-affirming hormone therapy
- Complex contraceptive choices
- Sexually transmitted infections such as recurrent genital herpes
- Recurrent bacterial vaginosis
- Recurrent thrush
- Menopause and hormonal concerns
- Chronic pelvic pain in men and women
- Painful periods and endometriosis
- Information about sexual health
- Women's Health after cancer treatment
- Androgen deficiency in men