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SEXUALITY AND CANCER
( By JASCAP )

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Feelings

Feelings about having cancer and their effect on sexuality

The feelings we have can be very powerful influences on our sexuality and our sexual behaviour. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or afraid about your cancer, its treatment, or your relationship, you are unlikely to be aroused by thoughts of sex.

Being told you have a diagnosis of cancer usually causes many strong emotions which may make you less interested in sex. Fear, anxiety, pain, anger, envy and jealousy are common blocks to arousal. People who have had a change in their body through illness or surgery often have a fear of rejection.

Normal, everyday feelings can be intensified, which can be exhausting and may lead to a loss of interest in sex, although some people feel an increase in sexual arousal. Some people say that they feel guilty for worrying about their sex life when they should just be grateful for being alive. However, feelings can sometimes be overwhelming and may be intensified by the worry that your emotions will also affect the people around you.

Our booklet on the emotional effects of cancer discusses the effects cancer may have on all areas of your life.

Solutions for releasing feelings
Sexual self-esteem is often directly related to overall feelings of well-being. If you feel unsure about yourself and lack confidence as a result of the cancer, you may also lack confidence sexually. It can help to talk and express these difficult feelings.

If you want to share your feelings you need to pick someone, perhaps a close friend or family member, who will listen and not judge you or tell you what to do.

Sexual contact can be a good outlet for some people. Anger may subside in a very healthy way after intercourse. Sexual contact can also distract people from feelings that are bothering them.
You may find it best to talk directly with your partner. Share your rage, anger and other feelings. Many couples use such times to start being more honest with one another, perhaps after many years of avoiding sensitive issues. Old feelings kept hidden and smouldering won’t help you or your relationship to heal. By talking openly you may find that you can overcome the problems in communication that are common in matters of sex and cancer.

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