- Cancer, sex, and sexuality
- How the male body works sexually
- How pelvic surgery to treat cancer can affect erections
- How pelvic radiation therapy can affect erections
- How chemotherapy can affect erections
- The psychological effects of cancer treatment on erections
- How cancer treatment can affect ejaculation
- How cancer treatment can affect fertility
- How cancer treatment can affect sexual desire and response
- How cancer treatments can affect sexuality and fertility
- Dealing with sexual problems
- What treatments are available to help with erections?
- When is sexual counseling helpful?
- Can testosterone restore sexual functioning?
- What about herbs or natural cures for erection problems?
- Is there a way to make orgasms as intense as they used to be?
- Special concerns linked to certain cancers and their treatment
- Feeling good about yourself and feeling good about sex
- Chemotherapy also changes the way you look
- Overcoming depression
- Dealing with grief and loss
- Good communication: The key to building a successful sexual relationship
- Overcoming anxiety about sex
- Rekindling sexual interest
- Sexual activity with your partner
- Keeping your sex life going despite cancer treatment
- The single man and cancer
- Men who have sex with men
- Frequently asked questions
- Professional help
- American Cancer Society programs
- To learn more
Overcoming anxiety about sex
Many couples believe that sex should always happen on the spur of the moment, with little or no advance planning. But sometimes you’re dealing with a cancer-related symptom or treatment side effect that makes it impossible to be as spontaneous as you may have been in the past. The most important thing is to open up the topic for discussion and begin scheduling some relaxed time together. Couples need to restart their lovemaking slowly.
Part of the anxiety about resuming sex is caused by the pressure to satisfy your partner. One way to explore your own capacity to enjoy sex is to start by touching yourself. Masturbation is not a required step in resuming your sex life, but it can help. By touching your own genitals and even bringing yourself to orgasm, you can find out if cancer treatment has changed your sexual response without having to worry about frustrating yourself or your partner. It can also help you find out where you might be tender or sore, so that you can let your partner know what to avoid.
Many of us may have learned as children that masturbation was wrong or shameful. But it’s a normal and positive experience for most people. Most men and women have tried touching their own genitals at some time in their lives. Many people who enjoy good sex lives with their partners still masturbate at times. Men and women in their 70s, 80s, and 90s often still enjoy self-stimulation.
If you feel at ease with the idea, try stroking not just your genitals, but all of the sensitive parts of your body. Notice the different feelings of pleasure that you can have.
The self-help books listed in the “To learn more” section can help you feel more relaxed about masturbation. Later you can teach your partner any new discoveries you make about your body’s sensitive zones. Even if cancer treatment has not changed your sexual responses, you may find some new caresses to enhance your sexual routine.
Last Medical Review: 08/19/2013
Last Revised: 08/19/2013