We are sexual beings from the day we
are born until the day we die.
Regardless of age or health, human
beings are capable of sexual
pleasure. Illness may affect your
sexuality, but it need not end it.
Always remember: you cannot get or
transmit cancer by touching,
hugging, kissing, or by other sexual
Important Points to Consider
stress can lower your desire for
- You can show someone how
much you love them in many ways
other than through a sexual act.
- Birth control is essential as your
cancer treatment may cause damage to
an unborn fetus.
pregnant while on chemotherapy is
never recommended. If you hope to
become pregnant after completing
treatment, discuss it with your
doctor first. Some men use a sperm
bank as a precaution. Ask your
doctor if using a sperm bank is
appropriate for your situation.
Chemotherapy and radiation can
reduce vaginal secretions.
Water-based lubricants such as KY
Jelly can help this situation.
Hormone changes caused by
chemotherapy also can result in
itching, burning, or dryness of
medications can decrease sexual
desire or cause physical changes in
the genital region, such as less
feeling due to decreased blood flow.
- If your white blood counts or
platelets are too low, your doctor
may tell you to stop having sex for
a few days or take special
- Take the
pressure off sexual performance and
concentrate on intimacy through
touching and expressing your
- Tell your partner
about your feelings and concerns. Be
open about your feelings of fear,
pain, or frustration.
- Then ask
your partner about his or her
feelings. You may be surprised to
find that your partner is more
accepting of your situation than you
are and can be a great source of
Any changes in your body
due to the cancer are most likely of
more concern to you than to your
- Be open while you are
engaging in sexual activity. Let
your partner know if something
doesn't feel good. A shift in
position may help. Work together for
mutual pleasure and comfort as you
focus on the future rather than the
Sex & Cancer
- Choose a
time of day when you feel well
rested. Take your pain medication 1
hour before sexual activity.
Take a warm bath or shower
beforehand; this will help you relax
- or try giving each other a
- Don't be hurried; pace
yourself during sexual activity so
that you don't tire.
- Your body
is covered with many nerve endings.
For a more pleasurable experience
use your sense of touch to its
- If you can breathe
better, you will feel better. Deep
breathing can make you feel better
and have more energy and vitality.
Enjoy this activity with your
partner before sex.