Breast cancer and its effect on sexuality

One in 28 South African women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime but for many women, there is an improved survival rate, says clinical sexologist Dr Eve.

Life during or after treatment may come with significant changes to the body, essentially changing the way you perceive your so-called femininity (Dr Eve uses 'so called' because femininity encompasses more than just breasts).

How do you relate to your partner and adapt to the new normal of your body? Dr Eve explores this with 702 callers and talks frankly about the effects of cancer on patients' sexuality.

She says women want to know the impact that cancer will have on their sexuality.

After starting treatment, whether it is chemo or radiation, I really do want to know what the impact is going to be on my sexuality. For healthcare providers, women are expecting you to be able to initiate the subject and research shows they prefer when their partner is present as well.

Dr Eve, Clinical sexologist

So talk to us, talk to our partners about what the impact of this treatment is going to be on my vagina, on my breasts, on my sensations, my body image, how is it going to affect his erections?

Dr Eve, Clinical sexologist

Dr Eve explains what happens to the body when you undergo treatment.

The most frequent problems are going to be low desire, low arousal, lubrication isn't easy, vaginal dryness....

Dr Eve, Clinical sexologist

The other thing that maybe you are not told is that you are much more at risk for yeast infections during chemotherapy.

Dr Eve, Clinical sexologist

She says the rate of divorce and separation is very high with women who have breast cancer, so she suggests you mingle.

Mingle, perhaps the marriage was not so great before hand.

Dr Eve, Clinical sexologist

On body image - perhaps if you have had a mastectomy, scarring from treatment, hair loss - Dr Eve says it has a significant impact.

There is a disassociation that happens fro many women around their sexuality because of the scarring and changed image that they see.

Dr Eve, Clinical sexologist

I do want to add that almost automatically today when there is a mastectomy, there is an automatic reconstruction that is offered to women and this has made a huge difference to women who are surviving breast cancer.

Dr Eve, Clinical sexologist

Click on the link below to hear the full conversation...


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