Cancer survivors often find that the aftermath of the disease brings almost as many challenges as diagnosis and treatment. Depending on the specific type of cancer and treatment, survivors may experience early menopause, sexual side-effects, and/or emotional issues relating to body image and sexuality.
Cancer treatments associated with early menopause include surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy), chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and pelvic radiation therapy. Except in the case of an oophorectomy, early menopause may be a temporary state. Depending on the patient’s age, the ovaries may recover from the negative effects of chemotherapy or radiation. Unfortunately, treatment options for patients coping with both menopause and cancer are limited.
Cancer’s impact on sexuality
Cancer patients who do not go through early menopause may still experience sexual side-effects. The sexual side-effects of cancer are rarely discussed (except perhaps among groups of cancer patients or survivors.) Yet a large percentage of cancer patients experience some type of sexual problems following diagnosis and treatment. The list of cancers with a high risk of sexual side-effects encompasses:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
The Mayo Clinic cites vaginal dryness among the most commonly reported cancer sexual side-effects, along with decreased interest in sex, difficulty attaining orgasm, reduced vaginal size, pain during penetration, and less energy for sex.
Surgery and chemotherapy often have a negative effect on patients’ body image and mood. Depression occurs frequently enough among cancer patients that the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends screening for depression at the time of diagnosis, as well as during and after treatment. As the Breastcancer.org website notes, depression “directly affects your interest in sex. If you're depressed, sex may be the last thing you want to deal with.” The same article on that website also points out that some medications commonly prescribed for depression can contribute to loss of libido.
People diagnosed with cancer often feel a range of other emotions which can interfere with intimacy. Anger, anxiety, fear, guilt, grief, and body image issues are common among cancer survivors.
Find your new normal after cancer
The Cancer Council Victoria states, “While some people find sexual intimacy is the last thing on their minds after treatment, others experience an increased need for closeness. . . Sexuality and intimacy after cancer may be different, but different does not mean better or worse. Your favourite sexual positions may become less comfortable temporarily or change over time. To adapt to these changes, you may need to develop more openness and confidence, in and out of the bedroom. Try to keep an open mind about ways to feel sexual pleasure.”
Whether resuming your sex life after cancer, or simply seeking to re-establish a feeling of overall health and vitality, restoring natural vaginal moisture can help prevent pain and itching. You will likely want to avoid hormone-based treatment for your vaginal dryness, especially if you have entered early menopause, are taking anti-depressants, or are dealing with other post-cancer effects.
This is especially true for survivors of estrogen-related cancers, who are frequently prescribed the hormone-blocking drug Tamoxifen to prevent future cancers. Cancer.org cautions that “Taking post-menopausal hormone therapy (PHT), also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT), to help with menopause symptoms may not be safe for women who have had breast cancer.”
Membrasin® Vaginal Moisture Supplement provides a non-hormonal option to dealing with post-cancer vaginal dryness concerns. Membrasin’s completely estrogen-free formula, SBA24™, is clinically demonstrated to help maintain natural vaginal moisture. Our non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, plant-based Membrasin® Vitality Pearls are gentle enough for your sensitive, post-cancer system yet highly effective – usually showing results in 2-4 weeks. After helping more than 500,000 women world-wide, we’re confident enough in Membrasin® with SBA24™ that we even offer a 100% money-back guarantee.