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Breast CancerCANCERCancer in WomenMental HealthSexual Life

Cancer Treatment In Women: Maintaining A Positive Sexual Health

She has superpowers, she’s a woman.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, this is an opportunity to raise awareness about the most frequent type of cancer that affects women. In 2020, 8.8 million new cancer cases in women were detected worldwide. Regardless of age, ethnicity, or social background, every woman is at risk of developing cancer, and this is a fact that women need to be aware of. Being diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming. Is life ever going to be ‘normal’ again? This is a thought that crossed the mind many times. Women who are diagnosed with cancer are often gripped with fear and apprehension, having their thoughts disturbed.

Common Sexual Health Concerns During and After Cancer Treatment

Physical and emotional changes are the most impacted aspects of a woman’s life as a result of cancer treatment. Sexual wellness entails more than just having sex. It refers to sex’s social, emotional, psychological, and physical aspects. Your sexual health includes your self-perception, how your partner perceives you, developing and maintaining sexual relationships, and the importance of sex to your quality of life. Cancer and its treatment have different effects on each woman’s sexuality. The following are the most common symptoms:

  • Decrease or loss of sex drive;
  • Painful or discomfort sex;
  • Feeling that sex is less enjoyable;
  • Losing confidence about your body;
  • Vaginal dryness and poor lubrication;
  • Pain or numbness of the genitals;
  • Difficulty or inability to have an orgasm.

Cancer treatment causes emotional sexual problems in addition to physical changes in women’s sexual health. Emotions play an important role in one’s sexual health. Cancer treatment may have an impact on those emotions and disrupt one’s sexual life. These are the feelings:

  • Sadness and fear;
  • Poor self-image;
  • Anxiety and depression;
  • Decrease or no motivation;
  • Relationship conflict.

It is perfectly normal to have a difficult sexual health after cancer treatment. You may believe that your worries and insecurities will never go away. Remember that tough times does not last, but tough people do! The important thing to remember is that you are not alone; sharing your concerns may be very beneficial.

Cancer Treatment That Affects Sexual Health Of Women

Some cancer treatments have a greater impact on women’s sexual health than others. Knowing their side effects and consequences can help you deal with them more effectively.

Radiation Oncology:

It is a branch of medicine that uses high-energy waves to kill or harm cancer cells in the body. This treatment may cause vaginal pain, soreness, and dryness. These side effects may last for a few weeks after treatment. Scar tissue may also form, shortening or restricting the vagina. As a result of these changes, penetrative sexual behaviors may become difficult, if not impossible.


Chemotherapy treatments that are administered into the pelvis or bladder can cause pelvic discomfort. Sex may be uncomfortable until your body heals. An abrupt decline in ovarian function is also possible in younger women. This negative effect has the potential to last a lifetime.

Breast Cancer Surgery:

Body image might be impacted by losing a breast entirely or in part. Moreover, breast sensation can be altered or eliminated by surgery.


Medications like painkillers or antidepressants may cause a weak libido and a drop in desire in sexual activities. Medicines frequently have an impact on mood.

How To Manage Your Sexual Life During and After Cancer Treatment

Communicate with your partner:

The first step is to discuss your sexual health concerns with your partner. Discuss your mental state, what makes you uncomfortable, and your limits. What matters is that you are at ease in your own skin. It is also perfectly acceptable to say “no” or “stop” at any time.

Treat yourself:

Your self-image may suffer as a result of physical changes caused by cancer treatment. However, this does not imply that you should neglect yourself or have a negative self-image. Treat yourself as you would before. Go shopping, get your nails done, get a massage; don’t let your physical appearance define who you are.

Pelvic floor physical therapy:

Women with painful or tense pelvic floor muscles benefit from this. Exercises help to strengthen and relax the muscles. This may lessen sex-related discomfort.

Spice up things:

Be inventive. Try to spice things up with your partner to keep your sexual life healthy. This can include role playing, experimenting with different positions to see what works best for you and your partner, and creating a romantic atmosphere – adding the spark can work wonders.

It might be difficult to talk about your sexual health. You can seek help from medical personnel or from your surroundings: partner, friends, family; they may be able to provide you with the encouragement you need to rediscover your sexuality. If you prefer, you can work with a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and cancer. Your provider can recommend suitable resources for you.


The Falcon Memorial Cancer Institute (FMCI) is dedicated to lending a helping hand in this battle against cancer. The FMCI seeks to support and assist anyone who has been affected by cancer. FMCI aims to provide financial support to cancer patients in Mauritius and abroad, as well as funding cancer research, purchasing medical equipment to treat cancer in hospitals, and maintaining a strong effort to massively raise cancer awareness.