Relationships and sexuality

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

You may have:

• a reduced sex drive

• menopausal symptoms 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.” Ruth

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.

“ Sex is what we do, sexuality is about who we are and intimacy is about sharing the secret corners of ourselves.” Grits (1990); Don Edgar (1997)

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. You may find the Cancer Society’s booklet Sex and Cancer/Hōkakatanga me te Matepukupuku useful. 

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