Effects of hormonal therapy 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 hormonal therapy on your sex life

Some cancers, including some breast and womb cancers, need female sex hormones to grow. These cancers can be treated with drugs that change hormone levels. This is called hormonal therapy. Hormonal therapy can cause side effects that are similar to menopausal symptoms. If you have hormonal therapy drugs, you may get some of these side effects, very few of them, or none of them. When you stop taking hormonal therapy, side effects usually go away within a few weeks.

We have information about the most commonly used hormonal therapy drugs.

Effects on sex hormones

Treatments that affect the balance of sex hormones in your body can also directly affect sexual function. These include treatments that affect the ovaries, and hormonal treatments for some breast and womb cancers.

If the balance of hormones is affected, it can cause menopausal symptoms. These include:

  • hot flushes and sweats
  • vaginal dryness
  • passing urine more often
  • lower interest in sex
  • aches and pains
  • mood swings and poor concentration.

As a result of my treatment, I’ve gone through the menopause. It hasn’t really affected my sex drive. It’s more of a problem that I’ve felt fatigued, stressed and anxious.


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The body and sex

It may help to understand more about your body and how it becomes sexually aroused.