Sex and cancer.
We rarely hear these two words together, and that’s a problem because up to seventy percent of breast cancer patients and almost all gynecological cancer patients experience physical and emotional changes that impact their ability and desire to engage in sexual activity.
Side effects from treatment including pain, fatigue and emotional distress all impact sexual wellbeing. Over time, the complex interplay between physical and emotional concerns can leave long-lasting changes to cancer survivor’s sexual wellbeing.
Common sexual changes amongst woman affected by cancer include vaginal dryness and shrinkage, decreased libido, pain during or after sex and changes to orgasm.
If you have experienced any of these sexual changes, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Unfortunately, many cancer patients are not informed of these sexual side effects of cancer treatment, therefore many don’t expect these changes and don’t know how to manage them. Fortunately, WITH SUPPORT up to 70 percent of cancer survivors CAN improve their sexual wellbeing.
There are several medical and psychological strategies that can help manage these side effects to improve your sexual wellbeing.
I’m going to share a few effective strategies to address sexual changes, specifically to manage vaginal dryness as it’s one of the most common sexual side effects after cancer.
Here are 3 effective strategies to manage vaginal changes:
• First, there’s Vaginal Dilators. Vaginal dilators can help stretch, lengthen and strengthen the vagina while also helping women gradually reconnect with their bodies
• Secondly, women can use Vaginal moisturizers. Vaginal moisturizers can help stabilize PH levels to reduce dryness and pain. These are very effective and need to be used daily for long-term results
• Lastly, I recommend patients to try Lubricants. Lubricants can help in the moment during sexual activity to improve moisture and reduce pain. Venture out to a local sex shop to test a few different ones in the store to see which you like best.
There are several strategies out there to manage vaginal dryness. I always recommend patients to try one at a time to see what works best for them. Keep in mind that many of these strategies must be practiced and maintained for long-term benefit. This can be hard, so if you feel a bit tired of trying these strategies, keep in mind that while it may be annoying at first, taking a few minutes each day can have a lasting impact on your sexual wellbeing.
If you would like to learn more about how to manage sexual concerns after cancer, feel free to check out my FB page Psychotherapy Without Borders or Subscribe to my YouTube Channel or schedule an appointment with me for individual support.