Sexuality and cancer

The knowledge that you have cancer often causes serious emotional crises that can also affect your sexuality.

Sexuality and cancer

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Sexuality and cancer

  • Does cancer cause sexual problems?

  • Can you be sexually active with cancer?

  • What problems can be expected?

Does cancer cause sexual problems?

The knowledge that you have cancer or another potentially life-threatening disease often causes serious emotional crisis. When it comes to survival, needs or pleasures like sex are suddenly no longer so important. When the whole body hurts and has been affected by surgery or chemotherapy, the strength or desire for sex is often absent. But this has nothing to do with the need for physical closeness and warmth, which can become more important in such situations.

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Can you be sexually active with cancer?

If there is uncertainty as to whether and when a sexual coexistence after a cancer is possible, a discussion with the attending physician can be helpful. Since sexuality is not limited to sexual intercourse, a reorientation in physical love due to a serious illness also means a chance to re-learn and find other levels of physicality.

Cuddling can become more important in a cancer than sex. A cautious, gentle hug or holding hands gives the person concerned the feeling of closeness, protection and security. This feeling is enormously important for the healing process. Imagination, curiosity, trust and the joy of discovering and trying out new things make it possible to lead a fulfilling sex life even with physical illnesses and changes.

What problems can be expected?

Apart from the purely physical visible problems with cancer, numerous other difficulties can lead to an impairment of sexuality. These include fears of being no longer attractive, or feelings of shame, for example after a breast cancer operation. Often your own relation to the body can be shaken by a cancer. Partnership can be helpful in such cases, to feel better in your own body again.

Not every sexual disorder after cancer is due to the disease itself. Even and especially in such situations, partner conflicts can have a negative effect and come to fruition for the first time.


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