Cancer and Intimacy


Cancer and Intimacy

Intimacy and Coping With Kidney Cancer

A kidney cancer diagnosis affects not only the sufferer, but the spouse as well, and the marriage. Both of you may experience sadness, grief and anxiety. The best way to keep your relationship strong is to not let cancer control your life, to understand the changes and adapt to these changes.

Roles May Change

In a marriage or relationship, each partner has a role, and an illness like cancer may change the roles. If you are the cancer sufferer and you have always been in charge and acted as the main provider, you may struggle now to let your spouse provide support. Your partner may also become overprotective, trying to help you. It is important to communicate openly, re-evaluate your needs and wants in the relationship, and stay flexible.  Make a plan. If you need to take some time off work, your spouse may need to take another job. A financial planner could also help you find other options to maintain financial stability. Look at other activities you were responsible to complete such as cooking, cleaning the house or shopping – try to simplify those (i.e. shopping online, buying already prepared foods) or get help from family or close friends.

Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Needs

Communication is important again. Cancer itself and cancer treatments can significantly affect your sleep, energy levels and mood. You may have days when you find difficult to get dressed or take a shower.  Don’t struggle by yourself or get frustrated, but rather ask your spouse for help. Take care of your emotions and feelings, too. Both of you need to talk and reassure each other that you are loved and support each other emotionally.

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Sex Life and Intimacy

Cancer can affect your sex life in so many ways. Symptoms such as depression, fatigue, nausea, erectile dysfunction (or vaginal dryness) all can affect your intimacy. Ignoring this topic would just aggravate the problem. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about sex with your partner, you should seek a counselor or sex therapist. A healthcare professional can work with both of you together or separate to improve your sex life and maintain intimacy.

More Than Sex

Since all aspects of the sex cycle are affected (desire, arousal, readiness, orgasm and resolution), you may want to try different techniques and see which one helps most. Some couples prefer to hug and cuddle more when the sexual desire is low. Others prefer to engage in one sided sex play – if you don’t have desire to have an orgasm, you could still help your partner to achieve one; or be ok knowing that your partner would masturbate either alone or with you to deal with sexual tension. If the major problem is with sexual arousal, the solution is to use erectile aids (for men) and lubricants (women).

Sexuality is not just about the physical act of sexual intercourse, it is also about how a person perceives himself and expresses love and care for his partner. Some myths are simply false: a man can have an orgasm without having an erection; sexual satisfaction does not necessarily involve penetration or achieving an orgasm – it is more important to stay flexible, learn new things when the older ones are no longer working, and have fun along the way.

Resources

NHS (Intimacy & Sexuality)

Cancer.net (Family Life)

Brenda VantaBrenda Vanta

Dr. Brindusa (Brenda) Vanta received her MD from Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine, Romania, and her HD diploma from Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine. Her main focuses are nutrition and homeopathy.

Dec 22, 2014
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