Sexuality and your feelings

Feelings, sexuality and cancer

Your feelings can have a very powerful influence on your sexuality and sexual behaviour. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, you’re less likely to be aroused by thoughts of sex. This is also true if you’re feeling afraid about your cancer, its treatment or your relationship.

Being diagnosed with cancer usually causes many strong emotions, which may make you less interested in sex. Fear, anxiety, pain, anger, envy and jealousy are common blocks to arousal.

If you have had a change in their body due to cancer or its treatment often have a fear of rejection. Normal, everyday feelings are intensified, which can be exhausting and may lead to a loss of interest in sex.

Some people feel an increase in sexual arousal. Others say they feel guilty for worrying about their sex life when they should just be grateful for being alive. Feelings can sometimes be overwhelming and may be intensified by the worry that your emotions will also affect the people around you.

Ways of releasing feelings

Sexual self-esteem is often directly related to overall feelings of well-being. If you feel unsure about yourself and lack confidence as a result of the cancer, you may also lack confidence sexually. It can help to talk about and express these difficult feelings.

You could share your feelings with someone who will listen and not judge you or tell you what to do – perhaps a family member or close friend. If you’d prefer to talk to someone anonymously, you could talk to our cancer information specialists on 0808 808 00 00.

If you have a partner, talking openly with them about sex and cancer can help you overcome communication problems. Your healthcare team might think you’d benefit from seeing a sexual health specialist. These are experts in dealing with issues about intimacy and relationships, and they can give you confidential advice and practical help. They can help you express your anger and other feelings. Many couples use these appointments to start being more honest with one another, sometimes after many years of avoiding sensitive issues. Keeping old feelings hidden won’t help you or your relationship heal. By talking openly, you may find you can overcome the common problems in communication about sex and cancer.

Sexual contact can be a good outlet. After having sex, you may find that any anger subsides. Sex can also distract people from feelings that are upsetting them.

Cancer and sexuality

Cancer and sexuality

Macmillan Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapist Dr Darja Brandenburg discusses how cancer can affect your sexuality.

About our cancer information videos

Cancer and sexuality

Macmillan Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapist Dr Darja Brandenburg discusses how cancer can affect your sexuality.

About our cancer information videos

Back to Your sex life and sexuality

How cancer may affect your sexuality

Cancer may affect your sexuality. It may affect your physical ability to have sex, your emotions or your desire to have sex.

Sexuality and relationships

If you are having problems with your sex life, there are things that you can do to help.

Common questions about sexuality and cancer

There may be questions you have about sex when you are given a cancer diagnosis.