Sex and Women with Cancer: Overview

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Surgery and sex

A woman’s genitals and organs for pregnancy are in the pelvis (lower part of the belly). These are some organs that are in the pelvis:

  • Uterus (womb)
  • Cervix (the entrance to the womb at the top of the vagina)
  • Fallopian tubes and ovaries (the organs that store eggs and make hormones)
  • Vagina
  • Vulva (the outside parts, such as the clitoris and the inner and outer lips of the vagina)
  • Bladder (the storage organ for urine)
  • Rectum (the bottom end of the intestines)

Front view of woman’s pelvis

Side view of woman’s pelvis

Cancer of any of these organs can affect your sex life. If you have surgery to take out an organ with cancer, sometimes other organs must be taken out, too. It depends on the type of cancer and if it has spread. Take this drawing with you, and talk with your surgeon about what’s planned. Ask how the surgery will affect your sex life. If part of the vagina is being removed, ask about having it rebuilt. If you think you want to have children later, be sure to ask about that.

Sex after surgery

After surgery, it might take a few weeks for you to heal before you can have sex. Talk with your surgeon about how long you should wait. If you have pain or problems during sex, tell the doctor and find out what can be done to help.

Last Medical Review: 05/09/2013
Last Revised: 05/09/2013