Over the last few weeks we’ve discussed how breast cancer patients physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health can take a hit when treatments begin. Though a sensitive topic, the sexual implications to breast cancer patients can be just as concerning and worth keeping in mind, particularly when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships with their partners. Three SGNT breast cancer patients wanted to share their stories to help others know what changes breast cancer treatments can have on your sex life.
An SGNT patient, Lori, celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary between her two treatment surgeries. She found her sex drive had disappeared and was demonstratining classic sides of menopause: hot flashes, tiredness and achieness. Though she wasn’t able to take estrogen, due to her personal circumstances, she felt CBD oil helped with the symptoms. She has found she had to work hard at developing the sexual intimacy between her and her husband. It took a year and a half to be comfortable with sex again and how she felt about her body. Her husband played a critical role in helping her feel better about herself.
Another patient, Kelly, agreed that sexual intimacy was very difficult. However, she too had loving spousal support that helped her on the path to recovery.
The chemotherapy and surgeries can leave breast cancer survivors not only physically tired but physically changed. Kelly recalls, after her double mastectomy, she didn’t want anyone to see her naked since she had no nipples for a year. But she goes on to explain how she felt about her plastic surgery,
“[He] made my post boobies better than my previous ones. I later had nipples tattooed on and got back my confidence. It was great to have perky boobs in my fifties.”
Similarly, Lori is happy with her breast reconstruction. However, she notes,
“There are crevices and it’s not perfect. [I do] have sensitivity and sharp pains on the side where [the] lump was because they had to do more ‘digging’ there.”
Know, though, for some patients sexual intimacy is not impacted. Patient R recounted, that after her double mastectomy, that while the “tissue expander made [her] feel a little like a robot”, she didn’t struggle with her sexual encounters afterwards. Which just goes to highlight how everyone’s experience will be unique to their particular circumstances.
Regardless of your situation, living a life after breast cancer diagnosis is possible. In fact, as we’ve learned through this blog series, it’s more than possible. Maintaining awareness of what you will encounter during your breast cancer treatment journey and by maintaining a strong support system, between your doctors, family and friends you can retain your physical, mental and sexual well being.