How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice:
a memoir of love, hope, and empowerment   Michelle L. Whitlock   www.HowILostMyUterus.com
Sex after Cancer

My Top Ten Tips on Intimacy and Sexuality after a Gynecological Cancer Diagnosis

  1. Find someone--a partner, friend, therapist, family member or another survivor--with whom you can be open and honest about your feelings and your fears. You have to talk about those feelings and fears to move past them.
  2. Get outside your own head. Listen to your favorite music, read a book, take a long hot bath. A woman's mind can be her own worst enemy when trying to rekindled sexuality and intimacy.
  3. It takes work, hard work, but your desire will return. Don't wait on it, go find it. Yes, there will be pain, but this too shall pass with time.
  4. Your experience with cancer has changed you, mind, body and soul. Explore it all! The greatest levels of intimacy come from breaking down emotional walls and making ourselves vulnerable to another human being.
  5. Naked cuddle time--kissing, holding, and caressing without the pressure of performing a sexual act stimulates trust, understanding, intimacy and eventually desire.
  6. Ask your doctor for a set of dilators and use them daily!!!! Remember the vagina is a muscle. It can shrink from radiation treatment and surgery, but it can stretch back out for enjoyable sex again (just as it does during child birth). It takes time. Think of this stretching as your new exercise program and stay faithful, after the pain comes the pleasure! As with any good exercise program, consistency is the key, so stay faithful. Use it or lose it. Invest in a good lubricant and don't be afraid to use it. (I love Astroglide, myself!)
  7. Remember, you probably created boundaries with your partner during your treatment. Be sure to invite him back in and give him permission to touch your body. Don't be afraid to provide a little direction. He doesn't know what feels good unless you communicate.
  8. Practice makes perfect. Take it slowly, don't impose any pressure on yourself. Initially you may only be able to handle penetration for a few minutes. It's OK and NORMAL! Do only what you can. Don't lose hope and don't get discouraged. Practice, practice, practice.
  9. Be patient with yourself. It takes times, but you can achieve great sex again and experience even closer intimacy than you every did before!

 

Tips from My Husband to Your Parnter…

  1. Show your support! Attend as many doctor and treatment appointments as possible. Even when she tells you that you don’t have to, go anyway. This allows you to live the experience with her,and it becomes something you are doing together.
  2. Your level of knowledge and interest in her condition helps you to better understand and cope what she is experiencing. It gives her confidence, knowing she can talk to you because you are in this together.
  3. Patience is the Key! Know your loved one needs space and permission to cope in her own way. I didn’t want my wife to work while during chemo and radiation, but she insisted. Every night she came home exhausted and I’d lecture her. What I didn’t realize was although it was draining on her physically, it uplifted her mentally. Working gave her a reason to keep fighting and made her feel needed. Let your loved one find her own way to cope and respect her choices.
  4. When our loved one is in pain, we often try to ‘fix’ the problem. Resist this urge. Ask questions and truly listen to what she says. Validate her feelings, even if they seem irrational. Just be her life preserver and flow through the storm with her, knowing the sun will shine again. This act will increase emotional intimacy between the two of you.
  5. In the sexual arena, remember to take cues from her. Let her know it is ok to give you direction and that you welcome the feedback. It can be as simply as how to rub her head or feet; or more intimate, like how to touch her in that special place. Let her walk you through exploring her body. Things are different now--be open to learning.
  6. Remember, her emotional and psychological scars linger long after the physical wounds heal, so have patience and take it slow. Find new ways to create intimacy and closeness: cuddle, read together, take a bubble bath, back rubs, phone sex, etc.

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