Sexuality after Breast Cancer

Breast cancer treatments have many effects on us during the different stages of our treatment. Often, during active treatment, sexual interest and activity diminishes. Post treatment, it may be difficult to incorporate sexuality back into our lives whether we are single or in a relationship. Taking the time to think about our sexual selves as well as talking with other survivors, trusted people and our partner is so important. It is also important to listen to our partner’s thoughts and feelings about it as well. Working together as a couple is important in the process of sexual healing. Role-playing, masturbation, fantasy, use of vibrators, vaginal moisturizers (Replens and Vagifem are the safest for breast cancer patients) and lubricants (Astroglide, KY, almond oil, coconut oil) are essential tools for a healthy sex life during and post-treatment.

  1. There is a difference between sex and sexuality. Sex is thought of as an activity – something we do with a partner. Sexuality is more about the way we feel, and is linked to the need for caring, closeness, and touch, and also encompasses how we feel about our bodies, our attractiveness and our ability to feel pleasure. Sex and sexuality often change after a cancer diagnosis and treatment, but with time and attention, it can lead to opportunities for even more satisfying experiences.
  2. Sexual touching of yourself and/or between you and your partner is always possible no matter what kinds of breast cancer treatment you have had. This may surprise you, especially if you are feeling down or have not had sexual activity for a while. This is the most essential step towards survivorship.
  3. Those of us who have lost one or more breasts from cancer, have lost the pleasure we used to feel from having our breasts involved in sexual activity. It’s possible to find new places on our bodies to replace that pleasure, but acknowledging this loss first, is important. We often are embarrassed to look at or touch our own private areas, but becoming more familiar with our bodies, specifically our genitals, is important in restoring our sexuality.

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