Effects of chemotherapy on women

How cancer treatments may affect your sex life

Cancer and cancer treatments can affect your sexual function directly or indirectly. Direct effects can be caused by treatments that affect the sex organs or sex hormones. Indirect effects can be caused by side effects like tiredness, or by changes in a part of your body other than your sex organs.

It is important to remember that not everyone will have the side effects we mention. Your cancer doctor or nurse can answer any questions you may have about your treatment, and how it might affect you.

Effects of chemotherapy on your sex life

Chemotherapy can cause temporary side effects such as tiredness, which may make you less interested in sex. It can also reduce the number of blood cells in your blood. This can increase the risk of infection, and the risk of bleeding and bruising, for a few days during treatment. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if you need to take more care than usual during sex.

An infection called vaginal thrush is common in women having chemotherapy. Your doctor can prescribe treatment for this.

Effects of chemotherapy on sex hormones

Chemotherapy can affect the levels of the female sex hormones. If you have not had a natural menopause, you may notice changes to your periods. Sometimes periods stop altogether. Some women may have an early menopause. Your doctor or nurse can tell you if your treatment may affect your periods.

If your periods stop, it is still important to talk to your doctor or specialist nurse about contraception. This is because it may still be possible to become pregnant. You will need to use a reliable method of contraception during your treatment.

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Effects of surgery on women

Any surgery can affect your sexuality. Surgery to any sexual areas of the body may cause noticeable changes.