How can cancer treatment affect my sex life?

Elizabeth Poynor, MD
Gynecologic Oncology

Cancer treatment can affect women's sex drive physically and mentally. In this video, says Elizabeth Poynor, MD, PhD, a gynecologist-oncologist in New York City, explains how treatment advances have helped ease both physical and mental challenges.

Following cancer treatment, you may experience numbness and a lack of sensation in areas that were previously hot spots. This can be caused by surgery, or even by the nerve damage that can occur as a result of chemotherapy treatments. And while this numbness may lessen over time, in some cases, it can be irreversible.

This can be disorienting. Forms of foreplay that were previously earth-shattering may now feel meh. You may struggle with arousal. You may struggle with achieving orgasm. You may wonder to yourself: Will I ever enjoy sex again!?

These feelings will be especially overpowering the first time you have sex following your cancer treatment… or even the first few times. You'll most likely feel nervous and self-conscious, and so will your partner.
Sexy Ever After: Intimacy Post-Cancer

More About this Book

Sexy Ever After: Intimacy Post-Cancer

Recent studies show that 40-100 percent of men and women who have been treated for cancer have experienced some level of sexual dysfunction. Sexy Ever After: Intimacy Post-Cancer will help you...

Continue Learning about Sex and Relationships

Older, Wiser . . . Sexier?
Older, Wiser . . . Sexier?
We're all happy to accept that fine wine improves with age—becoming more complex, more enjoyable, more valuable—so why not consider the possibility th...
Read More
What is anal play?
Emily NagoskiEmily Nagoski
Anal play is an additional sensation, different from both clitoral and G-spot sensations. If you’re ...
More Answers
10 Best Cities for Sex
10 Best Cities for Sex10 Best Cities for Sex10 Best Cities for Sex10 Best Cities for Sex
Find out where men and women are really satisfied.
Start Slideshow
What Can I Do to Have Better Orgasms?
What Can I Do to Have Better Orgasms?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.