Cancer can put a strain on intimate relationships. Treatments for cancer and the disease itself may cause changes in sexual desire and function. If your physical appearance has changed, you may feel less attractive or desirable. At the same time, your partner may feel helpless, fearful, or unsure of how to support you. Any of these issues can form barriers to intimacy.
The causes of sexual dysfunction are often both physical and psychological. Cancer and its treatments, particularly those involving the genital or reproductive organs, may directly affect sexual functioning and desire. The side effects of cancer treatments (e.g., fatigue, nausea, vomiting, constipation, pain) may also decrease sexual feelings.
In addition, you may feel anxious or depressed, which may impede sexual desire and functioning. These feelings may become amplified if your physical appearance changes due to surgical scars, hair loss, weight gain/loss, etc. These body changes may make you feel unsexy or insecure.
Read more about this issue and get tips on rebuilding intimacy during cancer care.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America®
Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is a national network of five hospitals that serves adult patients who are fighting cancer. CTCA® offers an integrative approach to care that combines advancements in genomic testing and precision cancer treatment, surgery, radiation, immunotherapy and chemotherapy, with evidence-informed supportive therapies designed to help patients physically and emotionally by enhancing their quality of life while managing side effects both during and after treatment.