Although we know so much more about serious, life threatening diseases than we used to there are still many unanswered questions and many myths and fears that live on unnecessarily. We might find ourselves laughing at the idea that cancer is contagious and could be passed back and forth between people, but trust me, if you have had at least a momentary fear about being sexually intimate because of the nature of the contact, you are not alone.
However, there is absolutely no evidence that sexual contact can spread a cancer to your partner. Having said that, this is probably a good place to say that some female reproductive cancers may be linked to sexually transmitted diseases but again this has nothing to do with passing a cancer to another person.
How the illness or the treatment changes our body may have a direct effect on our ability to be sexually active. Some of those changes are temporary and are related to how long it takes to heal from surgery or radiation treatment, for example. Some of those changes are permanent due to how our bodily functions have been changed. This is a huge loss for some and not so big for others because of factors like age and level of interest before treatment.
The amount of frustration, sadness, and fear that may follow the loss will be dependent on those factors and on the needs of our partner. Here again is one of those places where talking is absolutely essential. It is very important that you and your partner share your thoughts and feelings about these changes and be willing to explore other ways to meet one another’s needs for physical and sexual contact.
At a more emotional level, the changes to our bodies that may occur can really affect the way we feel about ourselves. This is most likely to take place for those of us who have derived at least some of our self esteem or confidence from how we look or from how we perform sexually.
When our confidence has taken a major hit like this we are not going to be very interested in being sexually intimate because we do not want to feel so unsure about ourselves, even with a known, trusted partner. Admitting to your partner that you are feeling very self-conscious and unsure is important so that they can reassure you of their caring and attraction regardless of the changes.
This is a big and important topic so I will be coming back to it again next week. Stay tuned and send your questions and thoughts.
Published On: January 25, 2007