- Cancer, sex, and sexuality
- How the female body works sexually
- Keeping your sex life going despite cancer treatment
- Effects of pelvic surgery for cancer on sexual function
- Radical hysterectomy
- Radical cystectomy
- Abdominoperineal resection
- Surgery for cancer of the vulva (vulvectomy)
- Pelvic exenteration
- Sex and pelvic radiation therapy
- Sex and chemotherapy
- Sex and hormone therapy
- Surgery for breast cancer can affect sexuality, too
- Summary table of how some common cancer treatments can affect sexuality and fertility
- Dealing with sexual problems
- Vaginal dryness
- Premature menopause
- Coping with the loss of a body part
- Reaching orgasm after cancer treatment
- Preventing pain during sex
- Special aspects of some cancer treatments
- Feeling good about yourself and feeling good about sex
- Chemotherapy changes the way you look
- Changing negative thoughts
- Overcoming depression
- Dealing with grief and loss
- Rebuilding self-esteem
- Good communication: The key to building a successful sexual relationship
- Overcoming anxiety about sex
- Rekindling sexual interest
- Sexual activity with your partner
- The single woman and cancer
- Frequently asked questions about sex and cancer
- Professional help
- American Cancer Society programs
- To learn more
Feeling attractive is just one part of your self-image. Dr. Wendy Schain, a psychologist who counsels men and women who have had cancer, describes self-esteem as a set of bank accounts:
- One account contains the net worth of your physical self — what your body can do and how you look.
- The second account is your social self — how easily you get along with others and the emotional support you can count on.
- In the third account is the total sum of your achieving self — what you have done in school, work, and personal and family relationships.
- The fourth account is for your spiritual self — your religious and moral beliefs and the strength they give you.
During your life, you make deposits in your accounts, but when a crisis like cancer comes up, you must also make withdrawals. Going through cancer treatment has costs. It takes time, and may take away some of your physical ability to function. It can harm your relationships with others, your career goals, and sometimes your faith. When funds from one of your accounts become low, you may need a “loan” from one of the others to balance your account.
Try to be aware of the costs of cancer in your life. Make a special effort to get new deposits for the accounts that remain active. By doing so, a drain from one area of your self-worth will not bankrupt you entirely. If your cancer treatment has affected your looks, focus on the love and care you get from friends and family who react to you with a deep level of intimacy. If treatment interrupts your work, use some of your energy to enrich your social or spiritual life.
Although you may sometimes feel that all your accounts are getting low, a more careful look should reveal some areas where “income” is still flowing in.
Last Medical Review: 02/25/2013
Last Revised: 02/25/2013