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Intimacy After Breast Cancer Treatment – Looking for a New "Normal"

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Updated November 15, 2011

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Rebuild Intimacy: Be Patient, Persistent, Creative, and Communicative
Survivor Couple

Survivor Couple

Pam Stephan
“Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.” - 1 Corinthians 13:7

Looking for a new “normal” with your loved one takes a coordinated effort. Physical, emotional, and spiritual changes will affect your physical relationship. Rebuilding your intimate life takes time, persistence, creativity, empathy, and good communication.

When treatment ends, your body is different, and your hormone levels may be low due to estrogen suppressors (such as Tamoxifen) or aromatase inhibitors (such as Aromasin). Your libido (sex drive) may be very low, or you may have vaginal dryness. If you have lost a breast or part of a breast, and have surgical scars, you may feel concerned about a loss of attractiveness. Physical sensation in your breast area will be reduced because nerves and tissue have been interrupted and removed. Sex and intimacy will not be same as it was before breast cancer. But with a commitment to each other, you can create new ways to express your mutual love.

Your partner may have different issues, as he moves from the role of caregiver to lover. If your loved one is hesitant, he may be concerned that physical intimacy will cause you pain or embarrassment. Fatigue can also play a part, particularly if your mate has been holding down a job in addition to caring for you at home. Encourage your loved one to be open with you about his fears and feelings, and deal respectfully with each other.

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