Your sexuality and emotions after risk-reducing breast surgery

Having breast surgery may affect your sex life and the way you see yourself as a woman (your body image). Usually this improves gradually with time.

If you have a partner, there will often be a period of adjustment for you both. Talking to each other and sharing your feelings and any fears can mean that you can overcome most difficulties with time.

If you’ve had breast reconstruction, this will create breast shapes. But the sensations in the breasts and nipples will not be the same as in your natural breasts. If you were previously aroused by having your breasts touched, your sexual arousal may be affected. Although this can take time to adjust to, with the support of your partner you will still be able to enjoy a fulfilling sex life.

If you have a partner, it may take you time to feel comfortable showing them your reconstructed breasts. You may also feel insecure about your sexual attractiveness. Your partner may be worried about hurting your breasts as you recover. They may be unsure of how to express their love physically and emotionally. Talking about your feelings can help if there’s awkwardness between you.

Cuddles, kisses and massages are affectionate and sensual ways of showing how much you care for someone, even if you don’t feel like having sex. You can wait until you and your partner feel ready – there’s no right or wrong time.

If you have difficulties with the sexual side of your relationship and these aren’t improving, help is available. You can get sex counselling through Relate. Or ask your doctor to refer you to a sex counsellor.

Emotional effects

Risk-reducing breast surgery is a big step. It can cause many different emotions. Many women feel a sense of relief when the surgery is over, but it can still take time to get used to your new appearance. You will already have had a lot to cope with. You may be coming to terms with the news that your family has a strong history of breast cancer, and worrying about your own children and other members of your family. Some women feel the emotional effects more than others.

Many women say their anxiety about developing breast cancer is greatly reduced by having risk-reducing breast surgery. And many would recommend surgery to women in a similar situation to themselves. However, they may still have feelings of loss for your previous appearance and sense of health.

There are people and organisations that can help you talk through and deal with any feelings and emotions you may have. Your breast care nurse can discuss your situation with you too.

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