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It’s not unusual to find that cancer has an effect on your sex life|.
Sexual difficulties can arise as a result of the physical and emotional effects| of cancer and its treatment. You may feel very tired| or anxious,| and sex may be the last thing you feel like.
Treatment may make you feel too exhausted to have sex and this can last for months or longer after it’s finished. But as you recover you may find that your sex drive gradually improves.
If you’re in pain or discomfort then it’s natural not to feel like having sex. Having your symptoms controlled| can help to improve this. Some menopausal symptoms| can make having sex difficult and reduce your sex drive.
Advanced cancer doesn’t have to mean that sex is no longer a part of your life. There are intimate, affectionate and sensual ways of showing how much you care for someone, even if you don’t feel like having sex. Talking openly about problems and concerns about your sex life with your partner can help to sort out any misunderstandings. It can reassure you that your feelings for each other haven’t changed.
Partners may sometimes feel, mistakenly, that sex could make the cancer worse or that they could catch the cancer.
Let your doctor or nurse know if you’re having problems with your sex life. They may be able to reassure you or give you some helpful advice. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor or nurse, you may want to call us|. Some people may find it helpful to talk to a sexual therapist. You can contact a therapist through the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists|.
Women who have had breast cancer are usually advised not to use contraception that contains hormones, such as the pill or the Mirena coil. Non-hormonal coils (intra-uterine devices) or barrier contraception such as condoms or the cap are the most suitable. Your cancer specialist, breast care nurse or GP can give you advice.
Content last reviewed: 1 September 2010
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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