If you are not in a relationship

You don’t need to be in a relationship to have questions about how cancer can affect your sex life or love life. But you may worry that people won’t expect you to think about it because you are single. Your healthcare team are there to answer any questions you have. Try not to be embarrassed and ask them about anything you are worried about.

Choosing to be single

There are some great things about being in a relationship. But there are also good reasons why people decide to be single. If you are feeling nervous about starting a relationship, haven’t met someone or think it’s not the right time, then there is no rush.

Perhaps there are other areas of your life that you want to focus on. You might want to get involved in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself. Or take some time to build up your confidence in other ways. Some people choose to spend time making friends and building up their social life before starting a relationship.

When you are ready, you could read more about starting a new relationship.

If you are not sure who you like yet

Finding out who you are, and what you like sexually, is part of life. Cancer doesn’t change that. Some people have a clear sense of their gender and who they find attractive. Others need time to work it out.

It’s common to have questions about gender or sexuality, but this can also be stressful. You may feel like it is another worry when you are already coping with a lot. You may worry how people will react if you tell them you are not sure about these things.

If you find it difficult to talk to people you know, some organisations offer support about gender or sexuality.

What about sex?

It’s natural to worry about what sex will be like after cancer treatment, whether you have had sex before or not. Cancer and treatment can make your body look, feel or work differently. This can be hard to deal with. Some changes may be short term, such as hair loss. But some may be permanent, for example losing a limb.

It can take a while to adjust to any changes to your body. If your appearance has changed, you may wonder if other people find you attractive. If your feelings or confidence are stopping you from having sex, it can help to talk about it. Sometimes practical advice about coping with a change makes a difference. You may choose to talk to a friend or family member, someone from your healthcare team, or get in touch with an organisation.

Most people are able to have sex after cancer treatment, but for some people sex is more complicated. We have more about coping with sexual problems caused by cancer in our information on side effects.