Relationships and sexuality

There are a number of ways that breast cancer may affect your relationships and sexuality. You may have:

• a reduced sex drive
• menopausal symptoms (such as vaginal dryness) brought on by treatment
• changes to your body image
• difficulty being physically active due to pain.
“ It is quite a big issue that’s ongoing and I feel a bit
guilty. He loves me, he does understand and that’s
sad too, but I’m glad I’m here.”
Sexuality means different things to different people. It is about who you are, how you see yourself and how you connect with others. There are many ways you can be sexual and intimate – it is much more than sexual intercourse.
Even if you are not ready for sex, it does not mean you cannot enjoy being close. Be creative and take opportunities to express your sexuality in new ways.
Talk to someone you trust if you have concerns about your sexual relationship. Friends, family/whānau members, nurses or your doctor may be able to help. The Cancer Society can also provide information about counsellors who specialise in this area.

If you have had a mastectomy, looking at yourself in the mirror can be difficult. Sometimes women feel nervous about showing their mastectomy scar to their partners.

It helps if you are able to talk openly about your feelings so that your partner understands your fears and concerns. However, sometimes partners may be unsure of their own reactions to breast surgery. While many partners are a great support and may adjust more quickly to the changes than you do, others have greater difficulty. They may also feel nervous about their sexual relationship with you.


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