Sex can feel a lot different after going through breast cancer. Most women experience fatigue, a dip in libido, lack of confidence, body image issues, and anxiety after treatment. Some women say it takes a lot more time for them to orgasm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have great sex in the future. One survivor even explains, “the biggest sex organ we have is our brain.”
This is what several breast cancer survivors and experts in the field have to say about sex after breast cancer treatment.
Sex After Breast Cancer
1. Talk Your Worries Out
We know it could be difficult to talk about your feelings. But constant communication with your partner is essential. It brings you closer and secure – vital for intimacy. If you aren’t ready for your partner to touch your breasts yet, it’s perfectly fine. Tell them what you would like and how you want to be touched. Several breast cancer survivors insist on joining a support group as well. You can get a lot of advice regarding how to cope with your new body image, different ways to increase sexual pleasure, and how to cope with other difficulties.
2. Be Patient With Yourself
You might feel overwhelmed when you have sex for the first time after the treatment. While that is normal, reassure yourself that it’s not going to be like that all the time. You don’t have to rush things. Do it according to your own pace. If you feel very tired towards the night (a common result of undergoing chemotherapy and radiation), maybe try a less active role while having sex or do a quickie during the beginning of the day.
3. The Big O Can Happen In A Lot Of Ways
Several breast cancer survivors suggest trying lots of other ways besides penetration during the beginning. Try masturbating, use your fingers and tongue a lot, and massage each other with scented oils. Also, pillows! Prop them up if you feel uncomfortable trying something different. If you don’t want your partner to focus on your breasts, tell them to try your ears, the nape of your neck, and thighs to increase sexual pleasure. Vaginal dryness is common after treatment, so you might want to buy a good lubricant to make things easier.
4. Sex Toys Can Help
If you haven’t used sex toys before, it’s a good time to start. Get one for yourself and for your partner. 70% of women achieve an orgasm from clitoral stimulation, so invest in a good vibrator. Try blindfolding your partner with a silky soft fabric. Or try a light bondage using handcuffs.
5. You Might Have Menopausal Symptoms
About 70% of women experience menopausal symptoms during or after breast cancer treatment.1 Most treatments, like chemotherapy, cause a lot of change in hormone production. When you are low in hormones, especially estrogen, it results in menopausal symptoms. These could be hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, mood changes, joint pain, and incontinence.
6. Love Your Body
Several survivors say one of the main concerns after treatment is body image. Dealing with the loss of their breast has a much deeper impact – about their appearance, how they think their partner sees them, and the huge effect it leaves on their self-esteem. It is important you talk about these feelings with your partner and therapist. You need to confront these issues and embrace your lovely body. Some women recommend getting a prosthesis bra. There are lots of pretty lingerie that design especially for women who have undergone a mastectomy. Other women suggest breast reconstruction surgery helped bring up their confidence level.
7. Pelvic Exercises Can Work Wonders
Another popular recommendation among women is to do regular pelvic exercises. These exercises work great to strengthen pelvic muscles and increase blood flow to the vagina – tick marks to increase sexual sensation and pleasure. Also, pelvic exercises are great to build the intensity of orgasms.
8. Consult With A Sex Therapist
If you and your partner are struggling to have sex after treatment, discuss it with an expert. You could discuss it with your doctor, but women suggest talking to a sex therapist or psychiatrist for better results. Also, if your partner feels hesitant or worried about hurting you during sex, make sure they are present during the therapy sessions.