Intimacy After Breast Cancer

You and your partner are getting through this cancer thing together. You’re strong and will only get stronger. And prioritizing intimacy during this time can bring much-deserved benefits, from increased relaxation and pleasure to deeper connectedness with each other. While breast cancer treatment and recovery can bring challenges to the bedroom, it also provides opportunities to strengthen your relationship. The challenges tend to lessen over time, but you can take steps to minimize them more quickly. If you're having trouble managing them, consult your doctor or therapist.


Boosting body image

Breast cancer surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can take a toll on your body image. It's common to feel uncomfortable about body weight and breast changes, skin discoloration and hair loss. And if you feel less attractive, you may also feel less sexually inclined. Remind yourself that you just fought, or are in the process of fighting, cancer. Yes, you’re a fighter! And you’re also still the same person as you always were. Some women find wigs, makeup and salon treatments uplifting. Sharing your concerns with your partner can also help. He probably finds you as beautiful as ever, or even lovelier, given your courageous strength.


Managing pain

Pain from breast cancer surgery can make physical intimacy difficult. Give yourself time to heal, knowing that the pain diminishes over time. If your doctor has prescribed pain management strategies, abide by them. If you wish to get physically intimate before the pain lessens in your chest area, prop up your torso on pillows and avoid positions that place weight on your chest or arms.


Respecting your comfort zone

The emotional effects of breast cancer and its treatments can vary. You might enjoy your partner's touch around any surgical scars – or you might feel more comfortable if he avoids that area completely. If having a mastectomy has you feeling self-conscious about your partner seeing your chest, try sensual positions in which it’s less visible. You can wear a loose tank top, dim the lights or make love by candlelight for added ease.


Cultivating closeness

Emotional intimacy is key when it comes to relationship happiness, especially while battling or recovering from breast cancer. Talk about the concerns you have involving intimacy. Partners are often concerned about expressing affection after treatment – so encourage yours to share freely. If you experience vaginal dryness as a result of your medication, consider using a lubricant. Discuss your desires and what feels good physically as it may have changed with your treatment.

Also, spend some time prioritizing closeness outside the bedroom. Weekly or bi-weekly dates, such as special dinners, hikes, and afternoons at the movies help create a stronger emotional bond with your partner – a bond that can help you stay strong through your recovery.




About the Author

August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer and certified nutritionist in Los Angeles. Her work is featured in numerous magazines including "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "DAME" and IAmThatGirl. She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition and loves connecting with readers and writers via her blog, Facebook and Twitter.