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Ultima Vez Modificado: 2 de octubre del 2012
During and after receiving treatment for cancer, women of all ages, with early and advanced diseases, will have concerns and questions about sexuality and sexual activity. It is common for women with different types of cancer to struggle with their body image; have less desire for sexual intimacy and/or find that penetration during sexual activity has become painful. Even if your health care providers do not ask about this normal and important aspect of health, you should not hesitate to discuss your feelings or ask questions about the impact of cancer treatments on your sexual health. This article attempts to answer common questions that arise, but certainly does not address every question. As with any concern, talk with your health care providers about your particular situation.
Some women experience a loss of desire for sex, an inability to have an orgasm, experience pain during sex or just do not find sex pleasurable. Sexuality is an important factor in quality of life for many women. Know that these concerns are not uncommon and your healthcare team can provide guidance. Write down your questions and concerns so you don't forget to ask about them. If your provider cannot help, ask them to recommend someone who can.
There are a few factors that determine if sexual activity is safe during treatment.
Vaginal dryness, which can cause intercourse/penetration to be painful, is one of the most common problems during and after cancer treatment. Vaginal atrophy is an inflammation, shrinking and thinning of the vaginal tissue. These are most often caused by a lack of estrogen to the vaginal tissue. Surgery can lead to a shortened vagina. Radiation therapy that includes the vaginal area can cause fibrosis (scarring).
There are a few steps that can help alleviate the discomfort caused by vaginal changes:
You've had a period of time without sex and now feel ready to rekindle your sex life, but how do you get started? Set the mood- what sparked romance for you and your partner before cancer? Music, a romantic meal or an evening out? Relax and don't pressure yourselves to have sex the first go at it. Take your time, enjoy each other and most of all, communicate.
Sexuality encompasses much more than sex; it includes the physical, psychological, emotional and social aspects of sex. In the real world, this means how you see yourself, how does your partner view you, how do you date after cancer, how do you fulfill your need for sexual relationships after cancer and so much more.
How cancer affects your sexuality is different for every woman. Some find the support they need through their healthcare team, their partner, friends or fellow survivors. You may find the support you need to reconnect with your own sexuality through a support group or a close friend. There are a number of online groups that host discussion boards where you can "talk" about concerns with someone who has been there.
For those that find things more difficult, a mental health provider can help you cope with the physical and emotional trauma cancer brings and determine how to move forward, whether with a partner or looking for one. Look for a therapist with expertise in working with people with cancer and/or sexual and relationship issues.
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