Cancer & Sexuality

Recent posts

How breast cancer survivors (and other women, too) can improve their sex lives

Last week I described some of the sexual problems faced by breast cancer survivors following treatment. I promised to return to the topic this week in order to highlight specific strategies that survivors can use to address common sexual problems – and that many other women may find help to make their sex lives better too. Ready? 1. Make friends with lube! Continue Reading →

How having breast cancer can affect a woman’s sexuality

This year, approximately 11,000 women under the age of 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While it is heart-wrenching to think about dealing with breast cancer at any age, young survivors of breast cancer are often affected by breast cancer treatments in unique ways that are rarely discussed openly. For one, certain treatments can send a woman into early menopause. This is important for women to talk with their healthcare providers about before they begin treatment, as some treatments can be modified in ways that increase the chances of a woman being able to conceive after treatment is complete. Treatments for breast cancer can also greatly affect a woman’s sex life (at any age) – lumpectomy and mastectomy can affect a women’s body image whereas chemotherapy can cause vaginal dryness or pain. Continue Reading →

Sex after breast cancer

More press on our recent study related to breast cancer and sexuality appeared in the Bloomington Herald-Times and can be found on their web site after the jump. When I went to my dermatologist the other day, she mentioned that she’d seen the article (much more comfortable than the time my gynecologist walked in the room and said he and his wife had seen me on the Discovery Channel talking about sex!) and thought it was good coverage of a challenging topic. I agree and would love to hear your thoughts, too. Continue Reading →

Sexual intimacy and breast cancer survivors: New research

As our recent study related to breast cancer and sexuality has been described on various web sites already, it’s about time that I posted information about this study – that we just published in the scientific journal Cancer Nursing this past week. You can read the IU press release on the IU site or view it after the jump. Continue Reading →

Hanky Panky breast cancer awareness panties… perhaps not the right time (or piece of apparel) for “awareness”?

Normally I really like the Hanky Panky brand of women’s underwear. I also like b boutique in Bloomington, Indiana and the way that they always send out photos of their recent acquisitions so you can decide whether you need to make an immediate trip to their store to get a new dress, top or skirt before everyone else beats you to it. But recently, I was a bit puzzled by the Hanky Panky pink breast cancer awareness thong for sale (the above image is from an email that bboutique sent out). Yes, awareness of breast cancer is important… but do we have to put the pink ribbon on everything? Continue Reading →

Christina Applegate speaks out about breast cancer and her double mastectomy

CNN has posted an Associated Press (AP) article about Christina Applegate’s public statements about her battle with breast cancer, her decision to have a double mastectomy (even though cancer was found in only one breast), her plans for reconstructive surgery, her love of life and her humor. Some key quotes:
On the choice to have a double mastectomy: 
"I just wanted to kind of be rid of it… so this was the choice I made, and it was a tough one."
On her forthcoming breast reconstruction:
"I’m going to have cute boobs till I’m 90, so there’s that," she joked in the interview, "I’ll have the best boobs in the nursing home. I’ll be the envy of all the ladies around the bridge table."
And on the ups and downs on her experience:
"Sometimes, you know, I cry, and sometimes I scream, and I get really angry, and I get really like, you know, into wallowing in self-pity sometimes," she said. "And I think that’s — it’s all part of healing, and anyone who’s going through it out there, it’s OK to cry. Continue Reading →

Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can lower ovarian cancer risk

Back when I was relatively new to sex research, I was out at a dinner with colleagues who are extremely well known and respected in the field. Two of these women are particularly well known for their research related to hormones. There were some artists at the dinner, too, who were asking these two scientists about their work. Listening to them explain it over Thai food, I was in awe. Here I was – a woman – and I knew almost nothing about the things they were talking about related to hormones. Most of my friends didn’t either. Continue Reading →

Breast cancer treatment and the sex of one’s doctor

Occasionally, researchers will look at how health care decisions may be associated with characteristics of the healthcare provider him or herself (for example, whether the type of contraception that an ob/gyn tends to offer most often to patients is associated with the type of contraception that she uses herself). This recent New York Times article reports on a recent study that suggests that some treatment issues related to radiation as part of breast cancer treatment may be associated with several factors including where a woman lives, whether she is single or married, the experience level of her surgeon.. and maybe even whether her surgeon is male or female. Read the full article here. Continue Reading →