#Change4Cancer

How breast cancer can affect intimacy and relationships

Both women and their partners are affected by a breast cancer diagnosis.

Breast cancer is not good for relationships, says clinical sexologist Dr Eve.

However good relationships can become stronger and more intimate if a couple navigates through this trauma together, Dr Eve writes on her blog.

Read: How to stop fertility issues from wrecking your relationship

When a woman is diagnosed, the relationship may take strain in various ways.

Woman experience bodily changes such as depression, weight fluctuation, sexual difficulty and hair loss.

This affects their self-image and sense of control, Dr Eve says.

There is often a role reversal, where the other partner becomes the caretaker and the woman feels they have lost their independence.

Read also: How your partner's depression can affect your intimacy and sex life

Breast cancer can impact intimacy in the relationships, with many partners experiencing emtional detachment and stress over the financial burden of medical treatment.

Added to this, statistics state that 70% of breast cancer survivors experience sexual dysfunction. This can persist over years if not dealt with in the relationships.

Dr Eve says a combination of these factors can begin to deteriorate the quality of a relationship.

Couples therapy and other support groups should be an important part of the breast cancer journey to help couples work through their challenges.

Read more: Sex driving a wedge in your relationship? Uncovering sexual desire discrepancy

She emphasises the importance of also providing support to partners and family members of cancer patients.

According to Dr Eve, psychological treatment is as important as drug or surgical treatment when it comes to breast cancer.

I find that the partner of the woman is very discriminated against.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

The attention, as it needs to be, is on the woman and survival. So the partner is almost shunted to the background. His or her role is that of just being supportive and making arrangements.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

The partner becomes the caretaker of the woman. That may be a significant role reversal for many couples.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Cancer is a very expensive disease. The partner may feel the burden to work harder or find money.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Dr Eve shared advice on how to approach breast cancer, while listeners shared their personal stories.

Visit Dr Eve's website to learn more.

Listen to the discussion with stand-in host Sizwe-Mpofu Walsh:


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