Sexuality for the Woman With Cancer

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Sex and hormone therapy

Hormone therapy may be used to treat cancers of the breast and the lining of the uterus. This treatment starves the cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow.

This can be done using medicines. For example, the drug tamoxifen keeps breast cancer cells from using estrogen. Other drugs – exemestane, anastrozole, and letrozole – keep testosterone from being converted to estrogen.

A few women have their ovaries removed or have their ovaries treated with radiation to make them inactive. This is another way to deprive a cancer of the hormones it needs to grow.

Any of these treatments will most likely cause symptoms of menopause. These include hot flashes, an interruption of the menstrual cycle, and vaginal dryness. In spite of these changes, a woman should still be able to feel sexual desire and reach orgasm. Sexual activity will not cause harmful increases in estrogen levels in the body.

Last Medical Review: 08/29/2013
Last Revised: 08/29/2013