home
RSS
Re-establishing intimacy after cancer
October 6th, 2011
07:26 AM ET

Re-establishing intimacy after cancer

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

As a nation, we first observed Breast Cancer Awareness Month - dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of early breast cancer detection - 25 years ago.

As the years have passed, the campaign’s visibility has grown, making it one of the most successful of its kind. Proceeds from pink apparel make October one of the rosiest months of the year. Charity walks abound. Education regarding self exams and breast cancer symptoms has become part of the public consciousness.

But as caught up as we are in the dual causes of prevention and additional medical research (both crucial), not as much attention has been paid to the sexual aftermath of a cancer diagnosis.

Recently, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that sexual performance can be adversely affected in the cases of men who have undergone treatment for prostate cancer. Although the effects vary greatly depending upon a number of variables - age, the severity of the cancer and the quality of the man’s sex life before treatment - the majority of participants in the study reported continued issues with erectile dysfunction and other intimacy-related issues after treatment.

And although prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, it’s not the only type that can lead to sexual dysfunction. According to an earlier study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a large percentage of both men and women (including 95% of women with breast cancer) have experienced some level of sexual dysfunction after being treated for cancer.

Says Anne, a cancer survivor: “During treatment, sex stopped. Now that I think about it, most forms of intimacy between me and my husband stopped as well. It makes sense to me now; out of fear, we both withdrew from one another. But if I could do it over, I would have paid more attention to sex. I would have tried harder to remain intimate. I thought we could set that aside and come back to it when the diseased storm had passed. I thought we could pick right back up in bed when I was healthier. This wasn’t true, though, and we have found it especially difficult to re-establish our sexual relationship.”

Why does this matter so much, especially considering that so much else is at stake? In “Sexy Ever After,” a new book dealing with intimacy post-cancer that’s available for free as a digital download during the month of October, the authors - Patty Brisben and Keri Peterson, M.D. - write, “Your sexuality is a vital part of your health and sense of well-being. To put it under the carpet because you’ve been sick is shutting off an area of your life that is a source of vitality.”

One of the biggest roadblocks to a healthy sex life after cancer is lack of desire. Libido is a complex thing, and libido can be affected by so many different factors: Hormonal therapy and chemotherapy can cause low libido.

But the issue could very well be psychological, too. Your sense of sexual identity may have been compromised, or your body image damaged, due to treatment symptoms like hair loss, infertility or disfigurement. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use those changes as an opportunity to find new ways to enjoy sex even more.

You can’t allow your intimate life to fall victim to the health issues you’re struggling with. It’s not fair to you or your partner. Being proactive about fighting your low libido is important, and if you work hard enough at it, sex will become fun again.

Says Krissi B., a cancer survivor, regarding sex after cancer treatments: “You don’t want to have it. You don’t feel sexy. You don’t feel pretty. You don’t have the energy. I also had an open incision on my chest for seven months because my mastectomy wound did not heal. The very first time I looked at my mastectomy wound, I was in the shower. I said to myself, 'It is so ugly.' My husband came into the shower fully dressed and kissed that area. 'Cancer’s ugly, honey,' he said. 'You can never be.' "

"When you get a mastectomy, you don’t have the same body you had, because you’re missing a breast. You don’t have that muscle tone, because of the chemotherapy. You don’t have your hair. You just don’t feel sexy. But then you realize that true love is about your inner beauty and not your external beauty.”


soundoff (370 Responses)
  1. RV Batteries California

    I was more than happy to find this page. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new stuff in your website.

    http://www.drdiag.hu/kereso/bl.php?id=91782&url=https://theocrv.com

    April 24, 2021 at 06:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Forklift Service Shop Orange County

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I truly thought you would have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you can fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

    http://tracking.vietnamnetad.vn/Dout/Click.ashx?itemId=3413&isLink=1&nextUrl=https://wildwestlifttrucks.com/contact

    April 24, 2021 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. repair rv toilet

    Hi there! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for the great info you have right here on this post. I am returning to your site for more soon.

    http://yellowpages.examiner.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com/pop-up-trailer-collision-repair-shop-near-me/

    April 25, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Bay Doors Los Angeles

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

    http://www.matatabix.net/out/click3.cgi?cnt=eroshocker&url=http://buyzithromax.us.org/infinity-blade-2-money-guide/comment-page-1//

    April 25, 2021 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. house for sale near me now

    http://www.scifistar.com/link-frame.shtml?meganleary.com/

    April 27, 2021 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. aika private server english

    http://map.google.com.et/url?q=https://aikareborn.com

    May 4, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Los Angeles

    https://image.google.mv/url?sa=j&source=web&rct=j&url=https://ocrv.xyz

    May 4, 2021 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jayco swift

    https://image.google.com.sb/url?q=j&source=web&rct=j&url=https://fleetservicerepairshop.com

    May 4, 2021 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. aika private server files download

    Great article! We are linking to this particularly great content on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    http://www.adserver.merciless.localstars.com/track.php?ad=525825&target=https://aikareborn.com

    May 4, 2021 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. truck collision repair

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that will make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!

    https://foc-u.co.uk/index.php?thememode=full;redirect=https://fleetautorepairshop.com

    May 4, 2021 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Couches Los Angeles

    https://maps.google.gp/url?sa=i&source=web&rct=j&url=https://ocrvluxurycoaches.com

    May 5, 2021 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. truck repair shops near me

    https://map.google.com.gh/url?q=j&rct=j&url=https://commercialrepairshop.com

    May 5, 2021 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. aika online review

    https://clients1.google.it/url?sa=t&url=https://aikareborn.com

    May 5, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Eye Doctor Near Me

    http://www.local.google.iq/url?q=https://arizonasvision.com

    May 5, 2021 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. volvo vhd

    http://www.nedoma.ru/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=&event2=&event3=&goto=https://www.fleetautorepairshop.com

    May 5, 2021 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. office max near me

    http://dex.hu/x.php?id=divany_raktar_cikklink&url=http://www.masternearme.com

    May 5, 2021 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lasik Eye Surgery Phoenix

    https://google.dj/url?rct=i&sa=t&url=https://optometristphoenixaz.com

    May 5, 2021 at 21:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sclera Contacts

    Hi there! This article could not be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I'll forward this information to him. Fairly certain he'll have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    https://image.google.hr/url?sa=j&url=https://sunglasseseyedoctorsoptometristphoenixaz.com

    May 5, 2021 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. mercedes cargo van

    https://google.dj/url?q=j&source=web&rct=j&url=https3A2F2Ffleetrepairshops.com&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    May 6, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. rv solar installation los angeles

    There is definately a lot to learn about this issue. I really like all the points you've made.

    https://www.clip.fail/video/q-U0X5d_CQE

    May 6, 2021 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Forklifts

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website. I'm hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal site now 😉

    http://www.uvioo.com/watch/?v=UVAfKfhBrXE

    May 6, 2021 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Kegs Dallas

    https://affiliatee.jp/redirect.php?url=https3a2f2fhowtobrews.com

    May 6, 2021 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Used Forklift Repair Shop California

    After checking out a number of the articles on your website, I really appreciate your technique of blogging. I added it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site too and tell me how you feel.

    https://lenkabd.com/linkout.php?Link=https://forkliftsforsalenearme.com

    May 7, 2021 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. storage unit near me

    http://news.only-1-led.com/?wptouch_switch=desktop&redirect=http://searchinteraction.com

    May 7, 2021 at 04:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rvtv youtube

    This is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise info… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!

    http://deturl.com/play.php?v=pks0jvQTfJQ

    May 7, 2021 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Forklift Repair Orange County

    https://image.google.mg/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://forkliftrentalorangecounty.com

    May 7, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Kegs Las Vegas

    https://local.google.com.ly/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https://allbrewsupplies.com

    May 7, 2021 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Used Forklift Maintenance California

    http://videoonline.pk/watch.php?v=hXxLQjuDp9k

    May 7, 2021 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. pizza places near me

    https://abenteuerteam.de/redirect/?url=http://www.ocrv.world

    May 7, 2021 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. rv fiberglass repair panels

    https://www.lend-money.ru/video/rtm7sSPn0_Y

    May 7, 2021 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Internet Marketing Club

    http://iloveinsomniac.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 7, 2021 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. motorhome repair shops

    This website really has all of the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    http://www.validitysensor.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    May 7, 2021 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Social Media Marketing Help

    I wanted to thank you for this good read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to look at new things you post…

    https://www.fiatcoupeclub.org/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=changeprefs&what=style&value=0&curl=https://www.affordableranking.com

    May 8, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Local Marketing Firms

    Hi there, I do believe your web site may be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, excellent blog!

    https://www.joekronz.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 8, 2021 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Social Media Marketing Company

    http://quality-china.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 8, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Digital Marketing Quote

    Can I simply say what a comfort to discover someone who really understands what they are talking about online. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people have to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you're not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

    http://www.ubasouthafrica.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 8, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Digital Marketing Quotes

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was really informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for sharing!

    https://wsweedscience.org/?wptouch_switch=desktop&redirect=https://affordableranking.com

    May 8, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Google Marketing Program

    This page truly has all the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    https://vaccinatenh.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Content Marketing Mentor

    https://gait-trial.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Refrigerator Orange County

    I like it when folks come together and share views. Great blog, stick with it!

    http://clik.pw/HQPmfC

    May 9, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Slide Out California

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    https://skiplink.org/3wyuCdoG

    May 9, 2021 at 06:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Content Marketing Program

    http://www.karir.akupeduli.org/language/en?return=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Seo Marketing Companies

    This is the right web site for anyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that's been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

    https://www.mitsui-shopping-park.com/lalaport/iwata/redirect.html?url=https://www.affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Seo Marketing Specialist

    I was able to find good information from your articles.

    https://hei.co/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Social Media Marketing Company Cypress

    I absolutely love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you build this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own personal blog and would love to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Cheers!

    http://www.tremlett.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Digital Marketing Pro

    http://www.kakujoho.net/i/index.cgi?id=2&mode=redirect&no=54&ref_eid=147&url=http3A2F2Faffordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Internet Marketing Consultant

    https://www.donmodels.ru/bitrix/rk.php?goto=https://www.affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Video Marketing Maker

    https://anneparks.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Social Media Marketing Agency Anaheim

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do think that you should write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not speak about such topics. To the next! All the best!!

    http://www.continual-e.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Digital Marketing Near Me

    http://e-chnr.org/m/makeCookie.php?url=http://affordableranking.com

    May 10, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.