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Sex & intimacy

4 Min. Read

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For many people, sexual feelings are an important part of everyday living. So is intimacy, an emotional closeness with another person.

Impact of breast cancer on your sex life

Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can affect both sexuality and intimacy. You may feel a change in your sexual relationships, sexual health, sexual response and function, level of sexual desire and satisfaction, as well as intimacy.

It’s normal to lose interest in sex at times after a breast cancer diagnosis and during treatment. You may feel differently in your own body and how you feel about being touched or touching others, kissing, masturbating, having intercourse or penetration, and being physically or emotionally close with your partner, spouse or someone you are dating.

Healthcare providers might not talk about these changes, but such effects are common. Many people experience them, regardless of age, stage of diagnosis or whether they are in a relationship or not.

What’s going on?

Many factors related to breast cancer can lessen sexual desire and change your enjoyment of sex. These include fatigue, menopausal symptoms, pain and breast cancer treatment itself. You also may have anxiety, fear, depression, weight gain, grief over the loss of your breast or breasts, negative feelings about changes in your body, or worry about treatment, recurrence and your own mortality.

Your age, social and cultural background, religious beliefs or past sexual history might affect your comfort level in reading about sex or talking about sexual effects with your healthcare providers.

This section can help you learn about the impact of breast cancer on body image and understand more about the sexual side effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill its mission of providing trusted information and a community of support to those impacted by the disease, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers on-demand emotional, practical, and evidence-based content. For over 30 years, the organization has remained committed to creating a culture of acceptance — where sharing the diversity of the lived experience of breast cancer fosters self-advocacy and hope. For more information, learn more about our programs and services.

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