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 (617 Responses)
  1. Leilani Shaneyfelt

    I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to check out new things you postÖ

    June 11, 2021 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bank near me

    chase

    June 11, 2021 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. geico near me

    There is certainly a great deal to find out about this subject. I love all of the points you made.

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

    June 11, 2021 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Parts Los Angeles

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you need to publish more on this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but typically people don't speak about such issues. To the next! Kind regards!!

    http://www.mameli.com/gb/show.php?q39fae=oc-rv.com/cities/fayetteville-ar/

    June 11, 2021 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sprinter Van Collision Repair Shop Near Me

    http://maps.google.mw/url?q=https://fleetautorepairshop.com

    June 11, 2021 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Conversion Van Screen Repair

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve visited this web site before but after looking at many of the articles I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím certainly happy I stumbled upon it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

    http://benchmadecigar.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprintervanrepair.com

    June 11, 2021 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sprinter V6 Return Line Repair

    http://backgroundsingapore.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=campervanrepairshop.com

    June 11, 2021 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. custom rv services

    http://www.otohits.net/home/redirectto?url=https://www.ocrvmotorcoaches.com/

    June 11, 2021 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. best rv service near me

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will revisit once again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

    http://www.endureon.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvshop.com

    June 12, 2021 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Roof Near Me

    Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    http://ww31.anijan.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorcoaches.com

    June 12, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. High Top Van Repair Shop

    http://www.wittybanter.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprinterrepairnearme.com

    June 12, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sprinter Van Side Repair

    https://contacts.google.com/url?q=https://campervanrepairshop.com

    June 12, 2021 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sprinter Van Side Repair Price

    http://www3.bigcosmic.com/board/s/board.cgi?id=tetsujin&mode=damy&moveurl=https://sprintervanrepairnearme.com

    June 12, 2021 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. tree service near me

    https://tripyar.com/go.php?https://nearmyspot.com/

    June 12, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. hardware store near me

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

    http://www.bbs.tut-obmen.ru/redirect/?g=https://nearmyspot.com/

    June 12, 2021 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. fried chicken near me

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.

    http://www.stayarmy.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=hootnholler.net/

    June 12, 2021 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. movie theaters near me

    https://news.url.google.com/url?q=http://bonus-books.com

    June 12, 2021 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. mexican food near me

    http://www.dfp-sales.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=hootnholler.net/

    June 12, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. gas near me

    You made some good points there. I checked on the internet for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

    https://kanazawa-navi.com/navi/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=725&url=https://bonus-books.com

    June 12, 2021 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. tractor supply near me

    http://galter.northwestern.edu/exit?url=http://quotenearme.com/

    June 12, 2021 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. volunteer opportunities near me

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more on this topic, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people don't talk about such topics. To the next! Kind regards!!

    https://login-tk.ewe.de/module.php/core/loginuserpass.php?AuthState=_f129e4d348645839698b4d7d776dd3affbd987fedc:http://bjsnearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. game stop near me

    http://squawkbox.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestlocalnearme.com

    June 13, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. chloroquine phosphate tablets

    hydroclorquin where to buy aralen hydroxychloroquine tablets

    June 13, 2021 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mailbox near me

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I am hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal blog now 😉

    http://www.mortimerliterary.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.bestshopnearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. aldi near me

    http://www.diversitybusiness.com/SpecialFunctions/NewSiteReferences.asp?NwSiteURL=https://quotenearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. plumbing supply near me

    I was able to find good advice from your content.

    http://askwolfram.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.bonus-books.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. gun shop near me

    http://robertwilkins.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bonus-books.com

    June 13, 2021 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. jiffy lube near me

    http://www.blackearthcg.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestlocalnearme.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. slot online indonesia

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.

    I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren't already 😉 Cheers!

    June 13, 2021 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. theaters near me

    Howdy, I think your blog may be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, excellent website!

    http://lightingmatters.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bonus-books.com

    June 13, 2021 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. judi online

    I enjoy what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the wonderful works guys I've included you guys to my blogroll.

    June 13, 2021 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. popeyes chicken near me

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thank you!

    http://cordbloodpartnership.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=quotenearme.com

    June 13, 2021 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. jersey mike's near me

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the finest blogs on the net. I will highly recommend this web site!

    http://kielyconstruction.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bonus-books.com

    June 13, 2021 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. covid rapid testing near me

    http://www.ola-cathedral.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=codymarketing.com/

    June 13, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. discount tires near me

    http://jp.local.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://www.forkliftrentalsnearme.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. car audio near me

    http://www.slack-redir.net/link?url=https://www.ocrvmotorsports.net/

    June 14, 2021 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. bass pro shop near me

    https://asiawebdirect.com/customer/recommend/?url=orangecountypondbuilders.com

    June 14, 2021 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. lowes near me

    Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a superb articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

    https://www.dartn.de/redirect/?url=www.postfallshealthcoach.com

    June 14, 2021 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. dollar tree near me

    https://genki365.net/gnka01/common/redirect.php?url=fleettruckrepairshop.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. pet grooming near me

    https://lnfcu.com/helpers/choice.asp?h=http://bulknearme.com

    June 14, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. casino near me

    http://www.t10.org/cgi-bin/s_t10r.cgi?First=1&PrevURL=http://johnnygillespiemusic.com

    June 14, 2021 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. printer near me

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service? Cheers!

    http://horizoninteractiveawards.com/index.php?URL=https://orangecountyphotographerblog.com

    June 14, 2021 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. auto detailing near me

    http://www.fms.treas.gov/fmsweb/disclaimer.jsp?ciURL=www.socialmediacoversmadeforyou.com/

    June 14, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. great clips near me

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this information.

    http://www.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=http://forkliftsafetyschool.com

    June 14, 2021 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Camper Repair Near Me

    This excellent website certainly has all the info I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.

    http://afm-invest.com/index.cfm?Display=resources.cfm&Exit=ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-repair-near-me-2/

    June 14, 2021 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Nearest RV Repair

    https://hr.pecom.ru/bitrix/rk.php?goto=https://bonus-books.com/digital-marketing-agency-near-me-13/

    June 14, 2021 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    http://georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu/exit.aspx?url=https://theprogressivebusiness.blogadvize.com/3111834/examine-this-report-on-rv-repair-shop

    June 15, 2021 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair San Clemente California

    http://yellowpages.uticaod.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/toy-hauler-trailer-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    June 15, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    https://recklinghausen.de/inhalte/startseite/ruhrfestspiele_kultur/musik_und_theater/musik__choere_und_vereine/index.asp?db=17&form=RedirectAction&redirecturl=www.ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-orange-california

    June 15, 2021 at 03:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. progressive games ios

    The time a learning basis. It can be once upon a time drive visitors to a website and to
    get an easily accessed body of labor. But what for anyone just starting?

    June 15, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

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.