Cancer Education Center

Welcome to the Slaggie Family Cancer Education Center page. Our goal is to empower patients and their supporters to become active partners in their health care by providing relevant information, increasing knowledge and learning from one another’s experiences. Follow the Cancer Education Center page and stay up-to-date as we post accurate and timely cancer-related information on topics such as cancer prevention, risks, treatments, clinical trials, end-of-life care, and survivorship. No matter where you are in your journey, we are here to help.

Jul 25, 2018

Intimacy and sex after cancer treatment

By Wendy Hanson, @wendyhanson


Love, affection and intimacy are important to healthy relationships. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy may cause sexual side effects, affect your body image and can also impact your feelings about sex and intimacy. As a cancer survivor, keep in mind that you may need to give your body time to heal after surgery or treatment. Be patient.

Sexual dysfunction is more common with cancers of the reproductive system, such as breast, ovarian and prostate cancers. Treatment for other cancers such as colorectal and bladder cancer can also have an effect on sexual function.

Emotions can have a strong effect on your desire for sex due to anxiety, fears and physical changes during and after cancer treatment. It's important to recognize these emotions and understand the impact they may have.

Intimacy and sex are strongly related, however, you may find that during this time of recovery and healing, your focus is more on intimacy and the emotional connection rather than the physical focus of a sexual relationship.

The following points may help you find new ways to be intimate with your partner:

  • Be open and honest — talk about how you're feeling.
  • Ask them how they feel — never assume you know what they're thinking.
  • Explore new ways to have a physical connection — try backrubs, foot massages, cuddling, reading together or simply holding hands.
  • As you're feeling better, request a date night and suggest what you'd like to do.
  • When you feel like initiating a sexual connection, communicate what you'd like to try and begin slowly.
  • The level of connection you feel with your partner may depend on your own body image — let them know what you’re feeling so you can talk about it together.

Remember, sexuality and intimacy includes all parts of you — physical, emotional and spiritual. Many times, individuals share that intimacy and relationships were strengthened during this healing period.

Please reach out to each other on this topic. Receiving support and encouragement from others is so important. If you feel you need more help, don't hesitate to ask for professional guidance.


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