How To Rekindle The Romance After Cervical Cancer

Last updated on : January 19 2021

Couple not talking to each other in bedroom

The worst thing about cancer is that it doesn't only affect a person physically. It also disrupts relationships emotionally and even sexually. 

Women that have overcome cervical cancer might be thinking the worst is over. But as soon as they finish treatment, they quickly realize the bitter aftermath of this disease—particularly in their romantic relationships and sex life. 

Sexuality vs. Intimacy  

There is a difference between the two. 

Sexuality goes beyond merely the act of sexual intercourse. It involves how one sees yourself and others sexually. You can express sexuality in how you dress, how you act, and how you have sex. 

Intimacy, on the other hand, does not necessarily pertain to sex. It's more about being close to someone, physically or emotionally. It's sharing love and mutual care with another person. 

This article discusses how cervical cancer affects survivors' sexuality and disrupts their intimacy with their partners. 

Furthermore, we'll learn how to overcome these downsides and revive any dwindling romance in relationships post-cancer. 

Surviving Cervical Cancer: The Bitter Downside 

Woman with full headscarf applying makeup

Certain types of cancer treatment can cause sexual problems, especially among cervical cancer patients. Radiation to the abdominal area can affect a woman's sex life, even after treatment. 

According to the American Cancer Society, women may experience these post-radiation effects, which can ultimately affect their sex life:

● Tenderness in the vagina within a few weeks after the treatment 

● Damage and thinning of the lining within the vagina, which may cause light bleeding during sex

● Considerable scarring within the walls of the vagina, making them tough and leathery. This effect causes pain during sex as the vaginal walls may not stretch out as much. 

● Women may be at risk of having early menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness, making sex uncomfortable for both partners. 

● Bladder and bowel movement can get affected, which can sometimes get in the way of one's sexual health. 

Aside from the physical effects of cancer treatment, women may also experience a perception change. Their sexuality may take a turn for the worse, often feeling self-conscious about the side effects such as losing hair or a considerable amount of weight.

After treatment, women may feel less attractive and lose all enthusiasm about sex as they potentially find it more difficult to achieve orgasms. 

Women who are in the same situation should understand that all this is normal among cancer survivors. Their mood and body image may change, but there's no need to swear off a passionate activity they previously enjoyed with their partners. 

Five Tried-and-Tested Ways to Revive Intimacy After Cancer 

Sex should be fun and enjoyable for couples. Don't worry; there are ways to rekindle sexual relationships even after cancer.

1. Communicate Your Feelings

Couple having a discussion

A great tip for women is not to assume what their partner is thinking or feeling or what the other is thinking or feeling about them. This assumption only leaves room for more doubt and widens the gap between you and your partner.  

For intimacy to revive, couples need to talk about their feelings openly. Cancer is a lot to take for both people, even for the healthy partner. But when communication is constant, you'll soon find yourselves in each others' arms again. 

Here are some tips to consider:

●     Give the other time and space. Couples should wait until both are ready to talk about the changes. They may need more time to process everything, and that's okay. 

●     Give each other the chance to air out thoughts and feelings. Set aside judgments and actively listen to one another. You may be surprised at how much you don't know about each other's opinions until you start listening. 

●     Physical touch does wonders. It provides comfort and shows the other how much you care. Offering non-sexual gestures, such as hugging or holding hands, can mean so much to someone, especially when they don't feel their best.

●     Let each other know that they're appreciated and valued. No matter the situation.

2. Seek Professional Help

Woman talking to doctor

Another foolproof way to recover sex drive after cancer is seeking professional advice.

Doctors may not discuss sexuality and intimacy with you in the first place, but that doesn't mean they're not aware of the implications. More often than not, they may only be waiting for you to bring it up first, not to make the consultation uncomfortable. 

Talking with a healthcare provider can help you learn about what you can expect right after treatment, such as changes in your body, emotions, and even sexual function. 

When you confide in your doctors, you'll be able to experience these benefits: 

● Get recommendations about the right time to have sexual intercourse.

● Discuss the side effects that limit pleasure during sex. 

● Be prescribed the right medications or treatments that will help alleviate any discomfort during sex.

● Get referrals for psychologists or sex therapists better equipped to discuss and address sexual issues post-cancer.

● Discover support groups, such as among fellow cancer survivors, and learn first-hand advice on how they've overcome sexual challenges.  

A woman's sexuality is a part of life, which is why it's vital to have this discussion with a healthcare provider before, during, and after the treatment's duration. 

Cancer survivors identifying as LGBTQ+ may need to seek healthcare providers that specialize in these aspects to gain helpful advice tailored to their needs. 

3. Get Help From Medical Devices

Healthcare providers may also recommend medical devices that help you address sexual issues after cancer treatment.  

For instance, some doctors recommend a penile implant or a vacuum erection device for men who have erectile dysfunction. These devices pump blood into the penis to stiffen it and create an erection.  

Women suffering from vaginal dryness during intercourse, such as cervical cancer survivors, may be advised to use vaginal dilators

These cone-shaped devices are inserted into the vagina a couple of minutes daily to stretch it and revive sexual intimacy gently. These are particularly useful for cancer patients that have undergone pelvic radiation, which causes the thinning and shortening of the vaginal wall. 

Vaginal dilators come in different sizes and require specific techniques, but don't worry. A medical professional will help you choose your correct dilator type and size and set a training plan according to your needs. 

4. Explore With Your Partner 

Couple in loving embrace

It takes two to tango for intimacy and sex drive to return in a relationship. Both partners should put in the effort to modify their intimacy patterns to adapt to their new situation. 

A woman can develop troubles with sex post-cancer, but that also means she can discover new sexual needs.

By exploring with yourself and your partner, you will be more likely to unearth these changes and figure out ways to make your needs work. 

See Sex In A Whole New Light  

Seeing sex in a new light can mean exploring new methods that make you feel excited sexually. This technique also goes out to which body parts you want your partner to avoid or touch. 

It can be difficult to rekindle the romance if you are hesitant to try. See sex as a way to experiment with new positions, either during foreplay or penetration, that you both might enjoy. 

Experimentation also includes using toys, finding new, excitable parts of your body, propping pillows for support, or even saying out loud things that make you feel good during the act.

Bring Back Your Sexuality 

Before making it work with a partner, you may need to make it work within yourself first. Feeling less attractive and other body issues are familiar with cancer patients and survivors. But it's only a matter of addressing these physical changes that will help you overcome them. 

If your hair hasn't grown yet, you may feel better putting a wig on or wearing gorgeous lingerie during sexual intercourse.

Discuss with your partner what you are thinking to ensure their 100 percent support and whether they have any to add.

5. Find Your Confidence

When a person feels confident about themselves, the rest will follow. Women can feel like themselves again after surviving cancer by working on themselves—not only sexually. 

Spending time with friends or doing your favorite pastimes can take your mind off the tensions. Or you can start working on your passions, especially when you haven't had the chance to do them before due to illness. 

Doing so can fuel a drive within you, making you feel more empowered and ready to take on your new life's challenges. 

The more we feel confident about ourselves, the more sex becomes comfortable and enjoyable. 

Conclusion 

Surviving cancer in itself is a remarkable feat. 

With this, you shouldn't feel pressured to regain your old self back after defeating cancer. If your partner truly cares for you, they will know when to wait for when you are ready to be sexual again.  

As people say, "Good things take time." Despite these tips, time is the best healer of everything. Work on these pieces of advice with your partner, and at the right time, everything will eventually fall back in place.  

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