Reclaiming your Sex Life after Cancer

Being diagnosed with a gynaecological or breast cancer is very shocking and distressing for women, their partners and families. When undergoing treatment for cancer, sex is usually and understandably the very last thing on a woman’s mind. However, treatment can have detrimental effects to sexual functioning and once the cancer is gone she may be left to deal with the consequences of treatment on her sexuality. It may seem like a terrible feat but rest assured, restabilising a satisfying sex life is an attainable goal.

Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Australia. Approximately 1 in 8 women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. Cervical Cancer is less common, effecting around 1 in 150 Australian women. The survival rates for both are high, especially with early diagnosis and treatment. Despite this, many women experience negative sexual side effects during treatment and ongoing consequences to their sexuality after cancer.

Women are often not given any information from their medical practitioners or oncologists about what effect the cancer or treatment will have on their sexual functioning. Side effects of treatments include decreased libido and arousal, difficulty reaching orgasm, vaginal dryness and dyspareunia. Women often feel afraid or embarrassed to bring these issues up to their doctors and as a result they go ignored and untreated.

As high as 90% of female cancer survivors will experience consequences to their sexuality even though many health care practitioners overlook these issues. The most common concerns for survivors are no longer feeling confident in their body image and being afraid for their sexual functioning.

Diagnoses, treatment and recovery for Cancer also tend to have an impact on partners and intimate relationships. The overall shock, stress and negative impact illness or treatment may have on sexual health and functioning may create tension in romantic relationships. Couples therapy can help you and your partner maintain a strong relationship and support one another throughout this difficult process.

Issues experienced during and following treatment are treatable and should not be overlooked, as a woman’s sexual health is a significant part of her overall health and deserves the best care.


What can a FemTherapy Psychologist or Sex Therapist do to help?

Here at the FemTherapy Clinic we value women’s sexuality and recognize your right to a full, safe and satisfying sex life. We will work with your health care providers to make sure you are getting the best care possible and all of your needs are being met.

During treatment we can help to collaborate with your health care team in recognizing, treating and monitoring any sexual side-effects you may be experiencing. Our experienced sexual psychologists will help you feel more comfortable and confident in your body and sexuality, work to resolve post treatment sexual dysfunction, resolve any associated relationship distress and ultimately reclaim your sex life!