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Cancer and its treatment can have a big impact on sexuality.
This section explains the effects that cancer and its treatment| can have and also discusses ways of dealing with these effects. Of course, such a small section can cover only the most obvious issues. But we hope it will help you understand more about sexuality so that you’re able to talk to your health professionals about issues that relate directly to you and your situation.
This information has been written to be inclusive of all sexual orientations, whether you have a partner, are between partners or have chosen to be single.
We can’t advise you about your individual situation, because this advice can only come from the people looking after you, who are familiar with your full medical history. It’s important that your needs are individually assessed so that you can get the right help and, if necessary, be referred to the best people to help and support you, and your partner if you have one.
Sexuality is the feelings and characteristics that make up your sexual identity. It’s about who you are and how you feel as a man or woman. Sexuality is a very personal matter and means different things to different people.
Sexual attitudes and behaviour vary enormously from person to person, and they’re influenced by our experiences and upbringing, our genetic make-up, our cultural and religious beliefs and by our hormones. Our sexual behaviour can change due to circumstances and it can vary at different times, in different places and in different situations.
When you’re diagnosed with cancer, or when someone close to you is, sexuality and a sex life may be far from your mind. You may worry that you’ll never feel confident or ‘sexy’ again. But cancer need not mean the end of your sex life.
It may be useful when reading this information to remember that you’re an individual. When considering sexuality it’s important to focus on your own needs, wishes and desires. You don’t need to worry about what’s considered ‘normal’, as there’s a huge range of different sexual tastes. Your sexuality isn’t fixed - you can change your mind, find new things pleasurable and communicate in new ways. You can aim to feel good about who you are, and how you choose to share that with others.
Content last reviewed: 1 October 2011
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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