More questions about cancer and sex

Here are some more questions about cancer and sex.

  • Can I pass cancer on by having sex? No.
  • Will having sex make cancer come back? No.
  • How long will my side effects last? This depends on the cancer treatment you had and the type of side effect. They might be short-term or long-term.
  • Do my healthcare team need to know if I’m gay, bisexual or trans? It may help for them to know whether you think of yourself as male or female (your gender) and who you are attracted to (your sexuality). But you don’t have to talk to them about this.
  • Can I masturbate? Yes.
  • Should I have the HPV vaccination? If you missed your HPV vaccination because of cancer treatment, you may still be able to have it. But it may not work as well if cancer treatment has affected your immune system. Ask your cancer doctor for advice.
  • If I have an early menopause, are there treatments to help with the effects? There are treatments to help with menopausal symptoms. You can also have treatment to protect you from long-term effects of the menopause.

Can I pass cancer on by having sex?

No. Cancer cannot be passed on to a partner through sex.


Will having sex make cancer come back?

No. Having sex does not increase the chance of cancer coming back.


How long will my side effects last?

It depends on the cancer treatment you had and the type of side effect. Some side effects are short-term and get better gradually after you finish treatment. Others may last longer or sometimes become a long-term problem. Remember, it is possible to improve most side effects or make them easier to cope with. Your doctor or nurse can give you more advice and support.


Do my healthcare team need to know if I’m gay, bisexual or trans?

Your healthcare team want to support you and treat you in a way you feel comfortable with. There may be times when it helps them to know:

  • whether you think of yourself as male or female (your gender)
  • who you are attracted to (your sexuality).

But you don’t have to talk to them about this if you don’t want to – it won’t change your cancer treatment.

If you want to talk, but not to people you know, you can still get support. You may find it easier to talk to someone from your healthcare team privately. Or you may want to talk to someone from a support organisation.


Can I masturbate?

Yes. Masturbating can be a good way to relax. It can help you get to know your body during and after treatment, and to find out what feels good for you. It does not cause cancer or make cancer grow.


Should I have the HPV vaccination?

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a very common virus linked to some types of cancer, including cancer of the cervix (cervical cancer) in women.

To help prevent cervical cancer, teenage girls are offered injections (vaccinations) that protect against two types of HPV. If you missed your HPV vaccination because of your cancer treatment, you may still be able to have it. But it may not work as well if cancer treatment has affected your immune system. Ask your cancer doctor for advice about the best time to have your injections.

Cervical cancer can also be prevented by regular screening tests. From the age of 25, women are usually sent an invitation to have these tests every few years. We have more information about the HPV vaccine, cervical screening and cervical cancer.


If I have an early menopause, are there any treatments I can have to help with the effects?

Yes. You can have treatment and support to cope with any symptoms and the emotional effects of an early menopause. You can also have treatment to protect you from the long-term effects of the menopause, such as thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) and heart disease.

You may be offered:

  • support from your GP or a specialist who treats women with early menopause
  • treatment and advice to help you cope with symptoms
  • hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or a type of hormonal contraceptive to prevent long-term effects.

Your doctor will explain the possible risks and benefits of any treatment to you. Some women can’t take HRT safely because of the type of cancer they have. Your doctor will tell you whether this treatment is suitable for you.