How Sex Can Inspire your Cancer Journey

Posted by on 11/15/2016 to News
How Sex Can Inspire your Cancer Journey

(DISCLAIMER.. If you are under the age of 16, please do not read this)

Sex is as old as time. In biblical times, God said”be fruitful and multiply”So men in those days took many wives. Although times have changed since then, and we have populated the world, the way sex plays a roll in our lives have not changed.

The human body is on fire during sex. Every nerve ending during sex is alive, the heart beats to the rhythm and the sexual organs react with explosive energy. We react to touch, such as a finger running down our backs, the smell of perfume or a freshly clean body, the sight of our lovers body shapes and curves and how we can please or be pleased by this wonderful Animalistic desire.

But when your going through cancer, the last thing on your mind is sex as with most chemotherapy treatment, radiation treatments or cell placement's, you are more likely to get sick yet the lack of energy or sexual intimacy is a real concern, not only with you, but your partner as well. Being intimate with your partner is in the top 5 of the most important parts of being in a relationship. Concerns about sex can be hard for most people. When your partner is going through cancer treatments, it can be even more difficult to know how to cope with issues of intimacy. Having had experience with this myself, for me, I think the most important fear is that even kissing can be a concern as with most treatments can cause the immune system to be compromised and your partner is susceptible to colds and flu's. But before we get into further information, lets talk about the main reason people who are going through cancer lack desire for sex.

Self-image is how a person views himself or herself. Because of the many physical and emotional changes after a cancer diagnosis and treatment, people may experience positive and negative changes to their self-image. During treatments, some experience body changes. Both cancer and its treatment may change how you look. How you feel about your appearance is called body image. Many people with cancer feel self-conscious about changes to their bodies. Some of the more common physical changes of cancer include:

  • Hair loss

  • Weight gain/loss

  • Surgery scars

  • Rashes typically from drug therapies

  • Loss of an organ, limb, or breast

  • The need for an ostomy bag, which is a surgical opening that allows bodily waste to exit the body into a bag

  • Fatigue or loss of energy.

Cancer disrupts so many parts of a person’s life, from relationships to work and hobbies. Depending on the seriousness of the illness and the chance of recovery, it may also force you to make changes to your future and deal with the chance of dying. During this time, you may experience many different emotions, such as:

  • Sadness

  • Anxiety

  • Loneliness or a sense of being different from others

  • Fear

  • Anger

  • Frustration

  • Guilt

  • Feeling out of control

  • A change in the way you think about yourself and the future.

But never fear, here are a few helpful hints to offset the negative effects so that you can start down the road to sexual activity:

You may view yourself and your body differently after cancer. These tips may help you cope:

  • Allow time to adjust. Accepting a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment may change your life. It takes time to adapt so treat yourself with compassion and kindness.

  • Talk with others who have been in similar situations. Many times, having one-on-one conversations or attending support groups who have been in the same situation can provide understanding and hope.

  • Build a network of friends and family who can support you and help you feel positive.

  • Ask for and accept help. Pass off tasks that take up your energy and aren’t pleasing to you. Asking friends to babysit, hiring a housekeeper, or buying prepared meals helps free up time to focus on healing.

  • Stay calm and, if you are able, embrace humor as positive effects on the mind and body. And it may help you relax during an uncomfortable time.

  • Let your health care team know your worries and concerns. For instance, if you are worried about losing your hair during treatment, you may consider cutting it very short or even shaving it. Taking control over the process may help you feel less scared. Most insurance companies cover Wigs (Called Cranial prosthetic). With a prescription and a letter of nessesity, Wig salons such a AJ'S Wigs will help you through the process.

  • As much as possible, remain active. Physical activity creates energy and may help you feel better during treatment. Social activities can also help you focus on something other than cancer .KEEP YOUR MIND AS ACTIVE AS YOU WOULD YOUR BODY.

  • Seek counseling if you need professional support. A professional can help you cope with and understand confusing feelings and deal with physical change. A sex therapist is key if you are experiencing extreme problems.


Cancer treatments can effect several things from penile erection in men to the way woman's bodies lubricate so whether your gay or straight, it really makes no difference as our bodies are the same. However, this can be very confusing and difficult to cope with. It can sometimes make it very difficult to respond to your partner during sexual activity. There is no such thing as a normal sex life. Different people have very different sexuality and sex lives. Normal is just what’s right for you, whether your on your own or in a relationship with someone else. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your personal sexual preferences or how often you enjoy sex, this might make you wonder if your own sex life is normal. Your sex life may include

  • Whatever gives you and your partner enjoyment

  • Having sex daily, weekly, monthly, or less

  • Cuddling, kissing or holding hands without needing to continue to sexual intercourse

  • Touching and pleasing yourself sexually – masturbation

  • Using sexual aids such as a vibrator

  • Losing interest in sex at certain times in your life – this may be caused by stresses such as illness, financial worries or a broken relationship.

The list could be endless. It really is up to the individual person. Some people want to have sex more often than others. Some men may feel they should be able to have an erection whenever their partner feels like sex. Some women feel inadequate if they don’t orgasm every time they have sex. But none of this really matters as long as you feel happy with your sexuality and sex life.

If you are in a relationship and you and your partner feel comfortable with your sex life, then reassure yourself that things must be normal for you both. Just feeling close to someone and knowing that someone is there for you, no matter what, may be just as important as having great sex.

Likewise, it doesn’t necessarily take being in a sexual relationship to be normal. It’s perfectly normal for single people to enjoy sexual pleasure without a partner. As we mentioned before, your sex life is how you feel about yourself and your sexuality, and whatever fulfills you sexually.

Now, Let me bring this subject back around. Your partner is going through treatments and the initial fear's are gone. You go through a long period of not wanting sexual intimacy with you partner. But what about your partner? What about his/her sexual needs? This is what I can speak volumes about as my partner went through 13 years of treatments.

I have a high sex drive and let me tell you, it was no easy feat for me due to the fact that I did not want to pressure him or guilt him into pleasing me (even though I could not please him due to his inability to have sex). I turned to a lot of masturbation . We did not know at the time(in the beginning) that his sexual organs would not work. He unselfishly , after a while, told me that if I took a lover, he would understand. As tempting as that was, especially after two years of no sex, I could not do that to him, nor could I do that to myself and our relationship. I stayed totally faithful. On Occasion, we would catch a glimpse of his body responding to sexual stimulus and totally take advantage of that. That seemed to satisfy my sexual urges for a while and give him a bit of confidence that all was ok.

Now, that's our story in a nutshell, but what about you? Let's start with the basics with simply touching and feeling cared for can reduce any anxiety and depression you may have. So if you have a partner, you can focus on showing your feelings for one another in other ways by:

  • Enjoying being close to each other

  • Touching and stroking the sexual organ's

  • Kissing

  • Massaging

  • Talking

  • Holding hands

  • Oral sex.(Using your mouth to please your partner)

    One thing I want you to remember, When your going through Cancer and Just don't feel like “performing”, your partner still has sexual needs and unfortunately, a lot of men don't have the “strength” or resistance to “cheating” that I do. There, I said it. Now we are talking!!!. Remember, sex is also an animal instinct and statistics show us that we are presented with sexual opportunity 2-3 times a day, on the ( conservative side).Infidelity is becoming more common among people under 30. Many experts believe this increase in cheating is due to greater opportunity (time spent away from a spouse) and young people developing the habit of having multiple sexual partners before they get married.

  • Men are more likely to cheat than women. But, as women become more financially independent, women are starting to act more like men with respect to infidelity.

  • As more and more women enter the work force, “office romances” are becoming more common. Spouses often spend more time with coworkers than with each other.

  • The internet, e-mail, and chat rooms are making it easier for people to engage in infidelity.

  • The initial decision to be unfaithful is rarely ever a rational choice; instead infidelity is usually driven by circumstances and one’s emotions. In fact, most people are surprised by their own behavior at the start of an affair.

  • Emotional infidelity, compared to just physical infidelity, can inflict as much, if not more, hurt, pain and suffering. And to make matters worse, most infidelity involves both physical and emotional betrayal.

    Please note, I am not suggesting that your partner is more apt to cheat then others, but we are all human beings and fallible to certain urges. Its just that others control these urges more and some are not able to control them. If you and your partner stop having sex it often means that other types of intimacy also suffer. You may avoid hugging and kissing(Which is why I talked about the importance of touching) because you worry that it may arouse your partner and then upset them because you don’t want to go on and have sex.

Sometimes people with cancer avoid physical contact with their partner, because they are so unhappy with the changes to their body caused by cancer or its treatment. If you are single you may avoid getting into a relationship as a result. Any changes in your appearance or physical ability to have sex may make you feel less confident about sex. For example, if you have had a breast removed or have scars from surgery.

Everyone remember Dr.Ruth? One of the things that she said that stuck with me, was sex isn't always about the orgasm. Its about the intimacy and the excitement and the incredible feelings of our nerve endings. She used to say, “think of the orgasm as the icing on the cake. You can still eat the cake without the icing”.

In closing, no matter what the situation is, always know that there is support out there for you, you are not alone and your not the only one who has ever gone through this. Don't be afraid to open up to your partner about sex, and always remember, that yes, sex is important, but its the deep routed friendship that you have with your partner and the promises you made each other through commitment that is so important. Never deny yourself the feelings and emotions needed to survive SEX AND YOUR CANCER JOURNEY.