What are sexual issues in women with cancer?
Sexual issues in women are characterized by a lack of energy or interest in sexual activity. Being intimate with and feeling close to your spouse or partner is important. Women undergoing cancer treatment may experience changes that affect their sexual life. Your doctor or nurse may talk with you about how cancer treatment might affect your sexual life.
How bad are sexual issues in women having cancer?
Mild to Moderate: The symptoms include inability to achieve orgasm; inadequate vaginal lubrication before and during intercourse; inability to relax the vaginal muscles enough for intercourse.
Severe: Visit your doctor if you experience, lack of desire for sex. inability to become aroused, pain with intercourse.
How to manage sexual issues in women with cancer?
- Learn about treatments. Based on symptoms, your oncologist will advise you on treatment options. Several medicines, devices and exercises are useful to manage sexual health problems.
- Vaginal gels, creams, lubricants or moisturizers may curb a dry, itchy, or burning feeling. vaginal estrogen cream is useful for some types of cancer.
- A dilator prevents or reverses scarring, if radiation therapy or graft-versus-host disease has affected your vagina.
- Exercises for pelvic muscles can lower pain, improve bladder retention/ bowel function, and increase the flow of blood to the area. It can also improve your sexual health.
- Condoms may prevent your partner’s exposure to chemotherapy drugs that may remain in vaginal secretions. Contraception is another option to prevent pregnancy.
- Manage related side effects. Talk with your doctor about problems such as pain, fatigue (Tiredness), hair loss, loss of interest in activities, sadness, or insomnia, that may affect your sex life. It can help you get the treatment and support you need to feel better.
- Get support and counseling. Share your feelings and concerns with people you are close to. You may also benefit from participating in a professionally moderated or led support group. Your nurse or social worker can recommend support groups and counselors in your area.
What causes sexual issues in women with cancer?
- Chemotherapy may lower estrogen levels causing primary ovarian insufficiency. It means the ovaries can’t produce hormones and release eggs. Hot flashes, irregular or no periods, and vaginal dryness can make sexual intercourse difficult or painful. Chemotherapy can affect vaginal tissue, which may cause sores.
- External-beam radiation therapy to the pelvis area (cervix, uterus, bladder, ovaries, or vagina) can affect a woman’s sexual function. It can cause low estrogen levels and, therefore, vaginal dryness. Vaginal stenosis (less elastic, narrow, shorter vagina), vaginal atrophy (weak vaginal muscles), vaginal itching, burning, and inflammation. It can also cause pain and discomfort during sex.
- Hormone therapy can lower estrogen levels and decrease a woman’s sexual drive.
- Surgery for gynecologic cancers may affect your sexual life. Treatment for cancers can also bring about physical changes that may affect the way you see your body.
- Pain killer, some drugs for depression, as well as medicines may affect your sex drive.
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