Talking to your medical team about sex and relationships
After diagnosis, it can feel like everything happens very quickly. Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse will talk to you about the treatment and possible side effects.
You’ll need some time to adjust to the changes in your life, and to talk to your family, friends and partner about what’s happening to you.
It’s important to talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse about fertility (your ability to have children) before treatment starts. Cancer and its treatments can affect your fertility in several ways.
People’s reactions to the risk of future infertility vary. You may come to terms with it quickly and feel that dealing with the cancer is more important. You may find that the impact doesn’t hit you until treatment is over and you are sorting out your life again.
We have more information on your feelings about fertility.
Your healthcare staff
Cancer and its treatments can have an effect on your sex life or your ability to enjoy sex. Someone from your medical team should discuss this with you. But you can always ask about it yourself whenever you feel ready.
It’s important to talk to your healthcare team about these issues before you start treatment if possible.
If you have any problems or questions, talk to someone from your hospital team. They’ll be able to give you good advice. Remember, most healthcare professionals are used to dealing with sensitive issues. They often talk to people about sex, feelings and how the body works. They won’t be surprised or embarrassed if you talk to them. There should always be a private space where you can have these conversations. You can ask to talk to someone of the same gender as you if you want.
There might also be other people who could help you, for example a counsellor or social worker. Your healthcare staff can refer you to these people, or you may be able to contact them directly – it varies in different parts of the country.
There are other organisations that can give you specialist support or put you in touch with local services. If you don’t want to speak to someone face to face, you may prefer to ring a confidential helpline. Being anonymous might help you talk about things that you find difficult to talk about in person. You may want to contact a support organisation.
Sometimes, getting information is not enough. You may want to talk about your feelings with a trained professional who can help you find ways to cope. They can also help you deal with the impact cancer has had on your relationships.
Our cancer support specialists can talk to you confidentially and listen to your concerns. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00, Monday-Friday, 9am-8pm.