Although breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women, advances in research have led to the development of therapies that have proven to be quite effective in treating the disease. Use of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, among other alternative forms of cancer treatments, have been widely used to treat women suffering from breast cancer. However, after successfully undergoing cancer treatment, many women experience drastic changes in their sexual lives in general and intimacy in particular. In this article, the different ways in which breast cancer affects the sexual lives of women, after it has been successfully treated, are examined.
- Feelings of being unattractive
Usually, many women feel completely unattractive after they have undergone treatment procedures for breast cancer. There are several things that contribute to this feeling among them. First, many of the procedures that are used to treat breast cancer successfully are invasive. For instance, all forms of mastectomy are invasive in that the breast is invaded and tissues removed. Although there are reconstructions procedures that are meant to restore the breast to its natural shape and size, the impact of the procedure affects the sense of being attractive in many women. Secondly, the scars that remain after the procedures make many women to feel completely unattractive.
Furthermore, the majority of women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer tend to feel that they have lost their sense of femininity. Related to feelings of no longer being attractive, a sense of one having lost her femininity is equally devastating and arises from the reality that part or the entire breast has been removed. Also, feelings of unattractiveness in women who have been treated of breast cancer may be influenced by their partners. In cases of women who have lacked support from their partners, the feelings of unattractiveness and loss of femininity are strengthened. On the other hand, availability of support from the partner works to reduce such feelings in the women.
- Impact on intimacy
For the majority, diagnosis of breast cancer always results into changes to their sex lives. This happens for several reasons and in several ways. For instance, many women tend to experience a decline in their libido after being diagnosed with breast cancer. There are several factors that are responsible for this. The most important one of them is the direct impact of the diagnosis which sets a train of emotional and psychological responses in a patient leading that lead to a decline of sexual desire in them.
With the reduction in the desire for sex, many women feel that they are failing in their duties to their partners. Feelings of guilt, apparent failure and loss usually exacerbate the condition for such women instead of making things better. In all these, the reaction of the partner matters a lot. If the partner behaves in such a manner to suggest that he is not satisfied sexually by the woman, this definitely makes the situation worse because it validates the original feelings of guilt and failure within the woman. This definitely affects the intimacy patterns of the pair.
- Painful sex
In some cases, women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have successfully undergone treatment tend to experience general sexual dysfunction. This is manifested in different ways. For example, some women, as a result of hormonal changes and other psychological factors, tend to experience a decline in the desire for sex. This may be detrimental considering that the feelings of the other partner are most likely to be hurt. Secondly, many women who have suffered from breast cancer may experience painful sex as a result of dryness of the vagina. This makes it practically difficult for them to engage in pleasurable sexual intercourse with their partners, thus putting a strain on their relationships.
Apart from this, breast cancer has been known to result into failure of women to reach orgasm during sex. What usually happens is that such women are worried about their bodies to such an extent that they fail to concentrate on the intercourse. Besides, some women have reported that their breasts become completely insensitive after treatment for breast cancer. The presence of this condition often means that women are not able to fully enjoy themselves during sexual intercourse since the breast is a highly erogenous part of the body of a woman.
Breast cancer has a number of unpleasant consequences on the sexual and intimate lives of women. From poor self image to overall lack of desire for sex, affected women tend to experience a myriad of problems that arise from the direct effects of the disease (or treatment) as well as their own perceptions about themselves. In all these cases, the perception and behavior of the partners play a major role in shaping how women respond to the challenges that they experience. The way a partner behaves may either strengthen the unpleasant effect of breast cancer on the sexual lives of women or diminish them.
Dr. Dalal Akoury has been working with women who have breast cancer for a long time. It is the desire to provide solutions to such women and other patients in general that led her to establish AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Centre in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Since its establishment, the facility has been a leading center for cancer patients across the world. Our approach to treating cancer seeks to combine conventional treatment methods with different alternative therapies. The result of this approach is your full recovery within the shortest time possible.