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The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
- Unknown

 

Sexuality After Breast Cancer

The loss of a body part can be very disorienting, and the loss of a breast or both breasts can cause profound worry to a woman facing a diagnosis of breast cancer. This can be particularly difficult if a woman is young, because often at this stage of her life she may be focused on finding a life partner and perhaps starting a family.

Sexuality After Breast Cancer

The most common sexual side effects to surgery is the damage to a woman’s sense of her attractiveness. Our culture places a heavy emphasis on breasts as a part of what makes a woman appear beautiful. The loss of a breast or breasts can be very difficult to deal with. In addition, the breasts are often a source of sexual pleasure for a woman and adjusting to being touched where the breast used to be can take some time.

Physical changes that come with surgery, as well as the impact of some treatments on a woman’s hormone levels may affect her level of sexual interest, at least temporarily. However, having breast surgery or radiation does not in itself physically decrease a woman’s sexual desire, nor does either procedure impact her ability to experience vaginal lubrication or to reach orgasm. Recent research has shown that within a year after surgery, many women with early stage breast cancer have adjusted emotionally and experience sexual satisfaction.

Breast reconstruction can help a woman feel more comfortable with her body, however, it will not restore normal breast sensation. Some women will still enjoy being stroked around the area of their healed scar, while others will dislike being touched there. It will not feel the same as it did before surgery, but over time, many women find that they adjust to their new breasts.

Some key suggestions to help women and their partners adjust to the body changes that a diagnosis of breast cancer can bring include looking at and touching herself; seeking support from others; and open communication between a woman and her partner about their fears, feelings, needs, and wants created by her changed body image. Talk with your AOA physician about steps you can take to help you successfully navigate the changes in your body after a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Learn more about the impact of breast cancer on a woman’s sexuality:

  • http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-after-sexuality
  • http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-after-lifestyle-changes
  • http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/PregnancyAfterBreastCancer.html