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The New Me: How cancer affects sexuality and intimacy – An Oncosexological Perspective

The New Me: How cancer affects sexuality and intimacy – An Oncosexological Perspective

The diagnosis of cancer usually is experienced as a major life event. All of a sudden, there is the awareness of mortality and the fear for dying. The subsequent treatment is accompanied by a multitude of physical, sexual, relational, emotional and social changes. Among the various consequences, our profession distinguishes altered sexual function, altered sexual identity and altered sexual relationship. 

Methods: Although it is not easy to uncouple sexual identity, sexual function and sexual relationship, we tried to unravel this trinity and searched for the individual changes in sexuality and intimacy, independent of sexual function and of sexual relationship. We based that on published data and our clinical experience.

Results: There is a wide range of individual reactions in cancer patients and cancer survivors. From developing a good excuse for refraining from anything sexual, to a substantially better sex life. Similarly, also from physical or emotional damage causing sexual apathy to an increase in sexual and intimate needs.

Conclusion: Cancer and its treatment cause more changes than merely in sexual function or sexual relationship. Many of those changes are not addressed in the prevailing questionnaires.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Sexual Function, Sexual Relationships