Yes, breast cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and surgery may affect the sex life of an individual. Breast cancer treatment can have a physical impact on the intimacy and sex of an individual. Many women with breast cancer have reported having less sex after breast cancer treatment.
If you have breast cancer or know someone who needs help with the treatment, then you may suggest Tata Memorial Hospital which is the best cancer hospital in India. Your sexual-related problems will also be covered in the treatment.
The main reasons for the treatment are:
- Breast cancer treatment slows down the body system. It takes longer for the body to get interested in things such as sexual intercourse.
- Sex may be uncomfortable and even painful because of menopause.
Some of the common effects of breast cancer treatment are:
- Numbness and pain:
Breast cancer treatment may cause pain, numbness, and sensitivity for a number of reasons. The most common treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy causes intimacy and sex issues. For several weeks after breast cancer, your arm may feel stiff and continue to feel sore for several weeks and longer. For some people, pain after surgery may continue and is related to nerve damage that happens during the time of breast cancer surgery. This is often accompanied by a feeling of numbness and burning.
After radiotherapy, the body may feel painful when touched and the area treated may feel tender. If you take hormone therapy, particularly aromatase inhibitors, you may experience pain in the joints.
Radiotherapy and Surgery are the best treatments for breast cancer in India.
Chemotherapy drugs may also cause tingling and numbness in the hands and feet as well as pain in the joints and muscles.
Because of the breast cancer treatment when you experience pain and numbness, you wouldn’t feel like having a physical relationship. Touching, hugging, or getting close to your partner may cause pain and discomfort. This may be upsetting even if it’s for a short period of time.
Some treatments may also cause dryness in the vaginal area which may cause sexual pain and discomfort. If you’re in pain, you may not even have the desire and energy to have sex or physical relation with your spouse.
Following are some tips for being intimate if you have pain and numbness:
- You must try pain relief medications but only under the guidance of your doctor. This can help you with discomfort while having sex. And moisturizers and lubricants can help you with vaginal irritation and dryness.
- Your own body can tell which touch feels pleasant and where you feel pain.
- Touching each other intimately and reading or watching erotic fiction together may help avoid pain.
- Try and experiment on different sexual positions to find which is more comfortable. The position that causes less pain and is more pleasant may be the answer.
- You must talk with your partner honestly about how you feel while having sex. This will help you to feel better and find an ultimate intimate choice together.
Fatigue is a common side effect of breast cancer treatment that doesn’t go away easily. It may get worse as treatment goes on and continues once treatment is ended. The treatments that cause fatigue are chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, hormone therapy and surgery may also affect your energy levels. When you feel fatigued or tired, you may not have the desire to have sex at all. This may take time to get used to if you have always been physically tired. You must be aware of your own limits and should not push yourself too much. Fatigue may gradually lessen over time and you may not later have more energy for sex.
Tips if you feel tired and desire to have sex:
- Exercising on a regular basis will help with fatigue. You must try to stay active after the treatment.
- Discuss with your doctor if you feel fatigued. Sometimes, fatigue can be treated with some supplements.
- Spend time with your partner with no expectation of intimacy.
- Vaginal dryness and irritation:
Some breast cancer treatments affect the estrogen of the body. Reducing the level of estrogen or blocking its action may cause vaginal dryness and irritation. Vaginal dryness is a common symptom in women who have treatment of breast cancer. This may cause painful sex. If you are experiencing vaginal discomfort, discuss it with your breast cancer team. Lubricants and moisturizers as well as other treatments can help with vaginal dryness.
Treatment for vaginal dryness:
- Make use of vaginal moisturizers such as Replens, Regelle, and others that provide relief from dryness and discomfort regardless of sexual activity.
- Make use of vaginal lubricants such as Astroglide, Pjur and etc. They help prevent pain and friction during intercourse and are used to heal dryness and discomfort. Lubricants are available in the form of tubes or gel.
- Menopausal symptoms:
Menopause symptoms can happen as a result of breast cancer treatment whether you have already been there or not. This includes vaginal dryness, night sweats, and hot flushes. These symptoms may have an effect on your sex life.
Menopausal symptoms cause less sensation during arousal which means you may not orgasm or it can take longer or the intensity of orgasm is reduced. Because of night sweats, you may feel less desire to have sex. Menopausal symptoms cause negative effects on how you feel sexually.
- Problems with orgasm and arousal:
The effects of breast cancer treatment may cause problems with orgasm and arousal. You may feel less sensual arousal, which makes it longer for orgasm. Chemotherapy can cause problems with orgasm and arousal. Some antidepressant drugs can reduce sexual desire and make orgasms more difficult. Tension and anxiety can reduce your ability to become aroused and reach orgasm.
If you’re experiencing difficulty in having sex with your partner, report it to your doctor to find a solution for this issue. The cost of breast cancer treatment in India is between 5-6lakh INR through a private practitioner inclusive of investigation, the surgery itself, and radiotherapy.