Cancer and the whole ordeal of its treatment can significantly interfere with your sexual life. Though sexual intimacy is a very subjective matter and it means different things for different people, cancer treatment is known to put a toll on your overall intimate life. As a practicing surgical oncologist in Kolkata, I would like to share a few contours of this conundrum from my practical experience.
The causes of sexual dysfunction could be myriad and of both physical and psychological types. During cancer treatment, the patient goes through an overwhelming streak of non-stop changes in their body and mind, such as surgical scars, hair loss, weight loss, and an overall reduction of libido or sex drive. All these contribute to endangering feelings of bodily dysmorphia, inferiority complex, numbness, and much more. A lot of patients suffer depression from the thought that they have become unattractive.
So, exploring sexuality during cancer treatment is an immensely murky terrain that I would like to invite you to explore with me.
Sexuality issues for women during cancer treatment
Cancer treatment is known to trigger a wide range of sexual impairments in women. For instance, in cases of cervical or uterine cancer, some pelvic surgeries, including hysterectomy, may dampen erotic sensation and cause vaginal dryness. This, in turn, contributes to decreased elasticity in the vagina. In some forms of breast cancer surgery, the decrease in breast tissues might also contribute to the decrease in physical sensations. So, with cancer treatment, a lot of erotogenic zones cease to respond the way they once used to.
Some oncologists have also noted radiation therapy in the pelvic area often causes mutations in the vaginal lining, which, in turn, makes coitus excruciatingly painful.
Quite a lot of breast cancer patients have to undergo hormone therapy in the aftermath of the surgery. Hormonal fluctuations and the declining levels of estrogen may as well cause vaginal dryness. Some cancer treatments are also known to trigger hot flashes or even early onset of menopause.
All these piling discomforts are not without solutions. Remedies like estrogen replacement therapy, vaginal dilators, applications of vaginal lubricants, and estrogen creams are known to work wonders to mitigate quite a lot of sexual discomforts arising from cancer treatment. Counseling and psychotherapy, on the other hand, can help you dispel body image issues.
According to an oncologist in kolkata, chemotherapy can often endanger infertility, so it is a better proactive measure to freeze up your sperm or eggs before you undertake chemo.
Sexuality issues for men with cancer
Cancer treatment can take a toll on male patients by impairing their ability to have and maintain an erection, ejaculate, or reach an orgasm. Certain surgeries for prostate, bladder, or colorectal cancer can wreak destruction of nerves and blood vessels in the vicinity, leading to erectile dysfunction.
Radiation therapy during or in the aftermath of the surgery, when administered to the pelvis, can damage some vital arteries which are instrumental in bringing blood to the penis; and hence, causing erectile dysfunction. Both chemotherapy and hormone therapies for prostate cancer can affect testosterone production in the body, making it difficult to reach an orgasm.
However, a cancer surgeon can sideline these problems through a nerve-sparing surgery that will excise the malignancy while keeping the important nerves unscathed. Other treatment options are medications, injections, vacuum devices, implants, or testosterone replacement.
Exploring sexual intimacy during cancer treatment might pose challenges, but they are not insurmountable. With patience, mutual compassion, and medical expertise of a surgical oncologist in Kolkata, you can triumph over all the odds and find satisfaction in your conjugal life.