By Laurie Sammeth, Contributing Writer, myOptumHealth
When you have cancer, the closeness and comfort of a partner is often more important than ever. But your illness may take up much of your time and energy, leaving little left for intimacy. The emotional effects of cancer and its treatments are often enough to douse your desire for sex. Some cancer treatments may cause side effects that directly affect your physical ability to take part in and enjoy sexual intimacy.
Different issues for men and women
Side effects of cancer and its treatment may reduce sex drive (libido) and cause both men and women to feel less attractive. Different types of cancer may cause unique issues for men and women.
In men, treatments for prostate or colon cancer can cause erectile dysfunction (also called ED or impotence).
In women, treatment of pelvic cancers can take a physical toll. Treatment can lead to severe vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse. It can also cause loss of sensation and trouble having an orgasm. Breast cancer and mastectomy may affect how a woman feels about her physical attractiveness.
How cancer treatment may affect your sexuality
Many factors, including your type of cancer and treatment, can impact your sexual function.
These can sap energy, reduce sexual desire and lower self-esteem. In women, chemo can lead to vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse and problems having an orgasm. After chemo, men sometimes have trouble making testosterone. This can interfere with sexual functioning.
Suggestions for overcoming barriers and restoring intimacy
View the original Cancer and intimacy: physical and emotional issues article on myOptumHealth.com
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