Women with breast cancer often report low sexual desire and frustration with the lack of resources. My Sexual Health column at Midlife Boulevard today takes a look at low sexual desire. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
What’s causing your low sexual desire?
Is it the Tamoxifen or is it the cancer that led your doctor to put you on the medication in the first place? How do you sort out what causes desire to vanish? Chronic illness and cancer can create huge life upheavals; stress, physical changes and emotional changes in you, in your work, and in your relationships. You may have lost a breast—a visible reminder in our breast-fixated obsessed society.
If you’ve suffered physical loss along with emotional loss do you still see yourself as sexual? Hormonal changes have an impact on your body. Vaginal dryness irritates tender tissue and can cause pain during intercourse. Other parts of your body may hold physical pain. The treatments can bring on rapid menopause. When you look at all those factors it’s no wonder that sexual desire seems to lessen.
There is a growing body of literature suggesting that sexual dysfunction is a common and distressing problem experienced by many breast cancer survivors. Sexual issues identified in breast cancer survivors include changes in body image associated with the loss of a breast or weight gain, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, and dyspareunia (painful intercourse), difficulty with arousal and orgasm… Journal of Cancer Survivorship
It is not surprising that breast cancer survivors experience changes in their sexual feelings in light of all the other changes they undergo. Unfortunately your doctor may not be very helpful. Leslie R. Schover, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, says “doctors rarely ask cancer patients about sexual effects of the disease or intensive treatments such as chemotherapy, which impair sexual functioning of women with many malignancies, including breast cancer, Hodgkin’s disease and leukemia.” (Source)