During cancer treatment, you may notice physical and emotional changes in the way you feel about your body and about sex. This is a common reaction to treatments such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and surgery. You may also feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor or your partner about these changes.
After cancer treatment, sexual difficulties can be both temporary and lasting, but also manageable, according to the Sexual Health Program at Dana-Farber.
- Chemotherapy treatments, which can trigger temporary or permanent menopause, among other changes
- Hormonal therapy for prostate cancer
- Surgery or radiation for cancers in the pelvic area
- Physical changes from a mastectomy, colostomy, or other surgical procedure
- Side effects from medications for pain, nausea, depression, or anxiety
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Stress in the relationship
Possible solutions include:
- Changing one's medications for depression or other emotional concerns
- Using lubricants, dilators, or other tools to increase comfort
- Getting more sleep and exercise
- Being open with your partner, if you have one, about sexual issues
- Seeking professional help for fertility and other sexual-health concerns
Dana-Farber's Sexual Health Program is committed to addressing patients' concerns about sexual health as an integral part of their care, from diagnosis and treatment through survivorship. The program provides education, consultation, and personalized rehabilitation counseling for patients and their partners who have experienced changes in sexual health during and after cancer treatment.
We believe all patients should have access to straightforward information about the ways cancer can affect sexuality. We offer private, compassionate counseling, consultation, and education to help you cope with these changes and find solutions.
The Sexual Health Program provides services for individuals and couples, and is inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations. The program is open to all Dana-Farber patients, as well as patients from other hospitals. Our services include:
- Sexual rehabilitation counseling for individuals and couples, including coping with menopausal symptoms, erectile dysfunction, discomfort during intercourse, decreased desire, and changes in body image
- Coping with infertility-related distress
- Educational workshops
- Opportunities to get involved with clinical research programs