Thursday, November 10, 2011

Intimacy & Cancer: That Thing Called Love

At some point, when you are feeling better from your  treatments, you and your partner or spouse may be ready for intimacy. Often, as we all know, even on a good day, we don’t always have feelings of desire at the same time.  It is no different when you are dealing with cancer. It helps  to have open lines of communication. Your partner may  be concerned that voicing a wish to be intimate again will be a source of stress and upset for both of you.

Tell your  partner how you are feeling about intimacy and just as important, let him/her share their feelings with you. Invite  them to ask questions. Many partners need reassurance that the person with cancer still has an interest in being intimate, and vice versa. Remember, intimacy isn’t only about physical attraction but how you and your partner or spouse thinks about your relationship together.

If you have advanced or metastatic thyroid cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation  treatment, ask your doctor or nurse when it is safe for you to be sexually active. This requires that your blood chemistry be at values that insure you have enough red, white and platelet blood cells.

If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy always use a barrier when having sex. This most often is  a condom but can also be a dental dam that covers the vaginal wall. Barriers also protect both genders from any source of infection and women from pregnancy.

Consider different types of sexual expression other than  those that require penetration. Sensual massage focusing  on the whole body as well as the genitals is a safe alternative.  If you are a women who has trouble lubricating, ask your  oncologist or gynecologist to suggest different lubricants and moisturizers that do not contain any of the forms of estrogen.  If you are a man having trouble getting an erection, ask  your oncologist or urologist to prescribe an appropriate  erectile dysfunction medication.

If you find it difficult to have an open conversation about intimacy with your loved one consider couple’s counseling to help you both learn to cope.

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