Sex After Ovarian Cancer
If you've been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, your world has probably been turned upside down.
Treating ovarian cancer can take some time, and living with it can leave you constantly exhausted. In addition to living with the physical symptoms of your treatment, you may have to make changes to your lifestyle to fit your treatment plan into your schedule.
Even with all of this going on, you're likely thinking about your partner's needs as well as your own. You may be wondering if you can return to a normal sex life after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Well, we're here to tell you that it's definitely possible—and here's how.
Maintaining intimacy during treatment
Though your sex drive may not be at its normal level, you can still maintain intimacy with your partner during treatment. Intimacy is important when going through this trying time because it strengthens your relationship and keeps you feeling connected. This period of your lives won't last forever, and maintaining a healthy relationship without sex is possible. Nonsexual acts such as massages, quality time together and weekly date nights can help keep the love alive.
You can still have sex with your partner if you're feeling up to it and your doctor gives you approval. If you can find ways to make yourself comfortable and increase your interest in sex, then there's no reason why you shouldn't have some fun in the bedroom. If you've been undergoing chemotherapy and feel self-conscious about your appearance, wearing a wig or lingerie may boost your confidence, and lubricants can help alleviate vaginal dryness.
This can be a good time for sexual exploration, too. Clitoral stimulation, oral sex, anal sex and sex toys can keep things interesting in the bedroom and help you avoid vaginal discomfort.
If you need additional help during this time, speak to an oncologist or counselor for ideas on keeping you and your partner satisfied until you're comfortable enough to have sex again.
Sex after ovarian cancer treatment
Though you may not be in the mood for sex as you treat your ovarian cancer, returning to a normal sex life afterward is possible. There are two main forms of ovarian cancer treatment—surgery and chemotherapy—and each can have different effects on your sex life.
Ovarian cancer typically means the removal of the ovaries, which leads to a significant drop in estrogen levels, and that can drastically lower your libido, decrease your vaginal lubrication and make it difficult for your vagina to stretch in preparation for intercourse.
Additionally, if your surgery included the removal of your fallopian tubes and uterus, your vagina may be shorter and have some scarring at the top, which can make sex painful. You may experience dissatisfaction and find it difficult to reach orgasm.
Chemotherapy is a good option for young women who want to keep an ovary so they can have children later in life.
Though chemotherapy may allow you to keep an ovary after the ovarian cancer has been treated, it may result in your ovary ceasing to produce estrogen either temporarily or permanently. This can decrease libido, make your vagina dry and tight, and can lead to vaginal inflammation.
Chemotherapy also leads to other side effects such as hair loss, fatigue, body pain, weight gain, weight loss and nausea, all of which may decrease your interest in sex for the time being.
No matter which kind of ovarian cancer treatment you undergo, a healthy sex life is possible. A sex therapist or couples counselor can help you adjust back to sexual activity, and undergoing pelvic rehabilitation can allow you to relax your vaginal muscles and feel comfortable during intercourse. Investing in a good lubricant can help remedy vaginal discomfort, and joining a support group is a good way to see what has worked for other women.
Sex after ovarian cancer is possible—you just have to take your time and listen to your body. Communicating with your partner can make this time easier for both of you, and finding other ways to maintain intimacy will go a long way toward keeping both of you happy as you recover. With some patience, you will be able to resume your normal sex life once you're ready.