Cancer and Sexuality

When people are diagnosed with cancer or living with cancer, they have many questions regarding sex and sexuality. They often find it difficult to discuss these questions with other people, even their own partners. They become worried, stressed and concerned with many questions, such as:

  • Can I have sex when I am diagnosed with cancer?
  • When is it safe to have sex?
  • Will I still be able to have sex?
  • Will my partner catch cancer from me?
  • Will my partner still love me?
  •  Will I be able to date again?
  •  Will I ever be sexually aroused again?
  • Will my partner leave me because I have cancer?
  • How will I have sex when I have a colostomy or urinary bag?
  • Is there anybody with whom I can discuss my sex concerns


Most of these concerns are either related to being diagnosed with cancer or a result of cancer treatment. Most sexuality issues and problems during cancer treatment are either psychological, physical, physiological or a combination of these. Many of these problems are a direct result of chemotherapy, surgeries or radiation therapy. Some estimates show that almost all people after cancer treatment have some form of sexual dysfunction or sexuality-related problems. Research suggests that almost 50% of women who have had breast cancer or gynecologic cancer experience long-term sexual dysfunction. For men with prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction and impotence are the main sexual problems.

Research also shows that almost 25% of people who have had Hodgkin’s lymphoma or testicular cancer develop long-term sexual problems. The most common sexual problem for both men and women with cancer is loss of desire for sex or low libido. Erectile dysfunction or impotence among men and pain during sex among women are as common as the loss of desire for sex. Other problems such as anxiety, depression, pain and fatigue also reduce the patient’s desire for sex. Unfortunately, unlike many other side effects of cancer treatment, sexual problems do not improve early, and may even worsen.

Affectionate couple in field

Cancer treatment can also affect fertility, which means that women cannot get pregnant and men cannot make women pregnant after cancer treatment. Many sexual and fertility problems are the direct result of radiation therapy to the pelvic area. For women, this includes radiation to the vagina, uterus or ovaries, and, for men, this includes radiation to the testicles or prostate. Surgeries such as breast removal, penis amputation, limb amputation and permanent colostomy bags cause a negative body image and low self-esteem, which directly affect sexuality and sexual activities. It is very important for patients to very openly discuss their problems with their doctor because most of these problems can be solved. Patients may be referred to a sexual therapist (a person who deals with sexuality issues), psychologist, counselor or other professional, as required.

Please note that a new book on cancer ‘DO I HAVE CANCER?’ is now available for sale in many online stores around the world. This book is a ‘one stop shop’ for cancer information. If you would like to get a copy of the book, you can click on the links below:

Balboa Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Or if you are in Australia, you can order a copy of the book for AUD 20.00 including postage charge by ordering at: You will be sent a payment link through PayPal and the book will be posted upon  receiving payment.

You can also purchase the eBook version from ClickBank for USD 3.00