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Life Beyond Cancer - Intimacy and Sexuality

Chances are, when you were first diagnosed with cancer, sex was not your top priority. Trying to cope and better understand your cancer diagnosis and treatment options made life stressful and chaotic for a period of time.  Now, you may be at a point where you are ready to think about intimacy and sex. 

Did you know that a healthy sex life is good for you?  Regular intimacy and sexual intercourse releases a chemical substance in your body known as “endorphins.”  Endorphins are a morphine-like substance that naturally occur in the body and are also released by the brain after sex. They are responsible for that blissful feeling that you feel after sexual intercourse.

We all need and enjoy the closeness that comes from being held, hugged, kissed, and loved.  But how do we get back the desire for a more intimate relationship after a cancer diagnosis and its treatment?  Now that you have completed your active treatment, you may find that intimacy and sexuality are more important to you. Rest assured this is all normal. Cancer and its treatment can affect you in a variety of ways. 

Fortunately, there are ways to get back, and even improve, your sex life after cancer. The first and most important is to communicate with your partner. This cannot be over emphasized!  Believe it or not, your brain is the biggest sex organ that you have.  It’s not always about fulfilling a physical need, although that is part of it.  It is about feeling loved and connected to your partner. When you are ready to begin a physical connection, consider starting with cuddling, touching, kissing, or holding hands. Doing what feels right to you and your partner, in your own time frame, is a healthy approach.

There are physical and emotional side effects that you may experience that affect your feelings about sex. You may select a topic that is of interest to you from the choices below. You are not alone if you have experienced any of these issues.

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Read about some patient experiences with the Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute

Patient and Family Services at the Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute

22 Bramhall Street | Portland, Maine 04102-3175 | 1-(877)-831-2129