For breast cancer, and other, survivors, the question sounds just as practical as provoking. Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer affecting women, except non-melanoma skin cancer. It’s commonness increases with age and with more targeted treatments available today, women are living longer with cancer.
But the effects of treatment remain. In some cases, women choose to have their breast removed as prevention… while others have no choice and must have surgery and chemotherapy. Regardless of the path a woman chooses, cancer wreaks havoc on her “sensual self”. From the toxic effects of chemotherapy on hair and skin to the disfigurement of breast removal, how do women regain a sense of sensuality?
And, what about sex? Does sex have a place in living with cancer?
Sensuality and sexuality and what happens after cancer are vital questions for women coping with cancer today.
Because the loss of sexual desire after cancer has more than one reason behind it, restoring libido or “desire” often requires more than one solution. It’s not at all just about boobs for many women. And, sometimes the desire for sex remains strong, however, the physiological effects of cancer treatment itself interferes with performance or pleasure.
The topic is one plagued by the medicalization of women’s health, the lack of communication between the healthcare professional and patient, societal taboos around sex and women’s bodies, poor communication between intimate partners and lack of understanding of the impact of cancer treatment. In fact, in the beginning, women may feel guilty that they are thinking about anything other than “surviving” so the question of “What’s going to happen to my sex life” is left outside of any medical setting.
Since women don’t talk about it with healthcare professionals, Real Women on Health! will open up the dialogue with Lisa Martinez, former Executive Director of the Women’s Sexual Health Foundation, . You can listen to the show here and feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your feedback on the show.
Lisa Martinez is a consultant and educator on women’s health issues and was the Founder of The Women’s Sexual Health Foundation. As a registered nurse and an attorney, she is a leader in the area of women’s health. She has appeared on CBS News LA and ABC, and has been interviewed on various NPR programs. She has served as a source for multiple media concerns including CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Self, More Magazine, and Discovery Health.Tagged: Cancer , Real Women on Health!