How chemotherapy may affect your sex life
Different people react differently to chemotherapy treatment. Over time, chemo drugs have been improved, refined, and designed to cause less drastic side effects. As far as sex goes, some people carry on as normal during treatment, while others find that the chemo alters how they feel emotionally and physically.
Fortunately, most of the changes are simple and there are meds which help to suppress the worst of the symptoms. Chemotherapy treatment is often given on an intermittent basis, and once the side effects have worn off between sessions, your sex life should not be affected.
In the meantime, it will be safe to have sexual relations, although you may feel a bit tired, and not always in the right mood for active sex. However, this will pass as you grow stronger.
How chemotherapy can affect your sexuality
- The good news is that chemo treatment does not cause erectile dysfunction i.e. ED. However high doses of chemo may lead to a temporary loss of sex drive.
- You may feel tired and sick which may result in a loss of interest in sex for a while.
- Chemo treatment has also been known to result in lower testosterone levels which may impact on fertility. However, studies have shown that men who have had chemo treatment for testicular cancer, have gone on to successfully father children.
- Research has indicated that the emotional effects of cancer and the treatment involved, can cause some men to suffer from anxiety that their manhood may be permanently affected and to worry that they may never be able to have sex again.
- Depending on the area of the body which is being targeted by the chemo treatment, the sexual side of matters may be difficult for women to manage.
- Some types of chemo treatment can lead to changes in the lining of the vagina, and during sex can make vaginal sex more prone to injuries. Bacteria which live in the skin or in the genital tract may be introduced to your bloodstream and lead to a serious infection. If you are having chemo treatment directed at the genital area, the doctor may advise you to avoid sex for the time being.
- If you are able to conceive, and your partner is having chemo treatment, doctors recommend that a strong, high-quality condom be used to prevent falling pregnant. Research has shown that traces of chemotherapy drugs may be passed on through semen if you have sex. The traces of the drugs can land up in the reproduction system, and potentially in the bloodstream of a foetus, should you conceive.
Both men and women sometimes report that chemo does not really affect their sex lives to any notable degree, and stated that after treatment, things quickly returned to normal. If your libido takes a hit, communicating with your partner is the key to understanding the issues which may arise.
The good news is that chemotherapy drugs will have no long-term effects on your sexuality. And it is important to note that cancer cannot be passed on to a partner during sex.
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