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SEXUALITY AND CANCER
( By JASCAP )

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Effects of hormonal therapy on sexuality

Effects of hormonal therapy on sexuality

Some cancers are influenced by hormones naturally produced within the body, so treatment is given to change the hormone levels. Some hormonal therapy drugs are given as tablets and some by injection.

Effects on women
Effects on men
Effects on women

Tamoxifen and anastrozole (Arimidex®) are commonly used hormonal therapy drugs often given as part of the treatment for breast cancer. They have fewer side effects than chemotherapy but can make some women have symptoms similar to those of the menopause. These can include vaginal soreness, vaginal dryness or discharge, shrinking of the vagina, and a drop in sex drive. However, some women have very few side effects, or none at all.

There are many other hormonal therapies, and these may often cause side effects which may affect your sex drive, such as tiredness or vaginal dryness.

A drug called goserelin (Zoladex®) is sometimes given to women who have not yet had their menopause. Zoladex reduces the production of sex hormones by the ovaries, so periods stop and women have menopausal symptoms while they are taking this drug. Zoladex can cause a reduction in sex drive. Usually Zoladex is taken for two years and, once the drug is stopped, your sex drive will gradually return to normal. The other side effects will also disappear.

Effects on men
In men with prostate cancer, it can be helpful to lower testosterone levels. This may be done by removing the testicles or by giving tablets or injections.

Treatments to lower testosterone levels have major effects on a manís sex life. You may find that you feel much less like sex and when, or if, you do feel like it, you may not be able to get or keep an erection. You may notice that you produce less semen, need to shave less often and have less muscle strength.

Some men having hormonal therapy treatments may also develop breast swelling and tenderness. A man whose testicles have been removed may feel less masculine (false testicles can sometimes be used to give the appearance and feel of normal testicles). However, neither the operation nor hormonal therapy will make you feminine, as some men fear.

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