- Moving on after treatment for breast cancer
- Lymphedema after breast cancer treatment
- Quality of life after breast cancer treatment
- Emotional aspects of breast cancer
- Body image after breast cancer treatment
- Sexuality after breast cancer
- Pregnancy after breast cancer
- Post-menopausal hormone treatment after breast cancer
- Seeing a new doctor after breast cancer treatment
- Lifestyle changes after breast cancer treatment
- If treatment for breast cancer stops working
Sexuality after breast cancer
Concerns about sexuality are often very worrisome to a woman with breast cancer. Aside from body image, some treatments for breast cancer, such as chemo, can change a woman's hormone levels and may reduce her sexual interest or response. It can be especially hard if a woman in her 20s or 30s finds she has breast cancer. Choosing a partner and having children are often very important during this period.
A woman's partner can also find the diagnosis distressing. Partners are often worried about how to express their love physically and emotionally after treatment, especially after surgery.
Treatment for breast cancer can affect the pleasure from touching the breast. In a reconstructed breast, the feeling of pleasure from touching the nipple is largely lost because a rebuilt nipple has much less feeling than a natural one. The skin of the breast itself may be less sensitive, too. But some feeling may return over time.
Some women still enjoy being touched around the area of the surgery; others dislike being touched there and may no longer even enjoy having the remaining breast touched. A few women have chronic pain in their chests after radical mastectomy. Supporting these areas with pillows and avoiding positions where your weight rests on your chest or arms during sex may help.
Breast surgery or radiation to the breasts does not physically decrease a woman's sexual desire. Nor does it decrease her ability to have normal intercourse or to reach orgasm. Some good news from recent research is that most women with early stage breast cancer have adjusted well within a year. They report a quality of life much like that of women who never had cancer.
Please remember that every woman reacts in her own way. Your feelings are not right or wrong, they are simply yours. For more information, see Sexuality for the Woman With Cancer.
Last Medical Review: 09/04/2012
Last Revised: 02/22/2013