Sex and Sexuality

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For a breast cancer patient, nothing can kill sexual desire faster than the daily nausea of chemotherapy, the vaginal dryness of premature menopause, and the ongoing fatigue associated with just about every stage of breast cancer treatment. It takes longer to get aroused, and when you do, sex can be painful. You may not like being touched in the same way that you did before. Your affected breast may be too sensitive to touch, or if you’ve had a mastectomy, a reconstructed breast won’t feel your partner’s caresses at all.

Ideas to spice it up!

  • Communication is vital. Getting sex started again after a major life change is never easy, and may be awkward and embarrassing at first. If you have had a mastectomy or chemotherapy, you may feel sensitive about your changed appearance. Set aside time to talk to your partner and to listen to what he has to say. You may not feel ready for full intercourse but try to be specific about what you are prepared to do.
  • Take one step at a time. Often a cuddle and a hug will be enough to bring you close at first and if you have discussed it in advance, it will not cause distrust or guilt if things go no farther at the time. Gradually, you will feel ready to move on to a wide range of sexual activities.
  • Getting used to your new body. Sex after breast cancer has to do with your body image too. If you don’t feel particular sexy about your new body just yet, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a little lingerie to bed if it will help you feel more attractive and more in the mood.
  • Think creatively. Be resourceful. For example, if you’re often too tired for sex at bedtime, try to find another time of day when you have more energy.
  • Find solutions. The symptoms of menopause, especially vaginal dryness, may also be getting in the way, causing painful sexual intercourse. Take advantage of lubricants and keep them at your bedside.
  • Don’t neglect foreplay. Adequate stimulation is important for the vagina to be ready for intercourse.