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Can you still have a love life? How therapy affects romance

After deciding on the best course of treatment, you probably asked your doctor how your cancer therapy would affect your day-to-day routine. But there may have been one topic you didn’t ask about, even though it may have been on your mind: What role would romance take now that you’re entering therapy?

Embarrassment might keep the conversation under wraps, but by opening the lines of communication—with your doctor, your partner and yourself—you may discover some surprising answers.

Communication and precaution

Being able to enjoy sex after cancer treatment is an important part of the recovery process. Intimacy can assure you that your life is back to normal, that you are supported and that you are desired and loved.

What part sex and possibly pregnancy play in your life needs to be factored into your treatment decisions. Some aggressive therapies may cause temporary infertility or sterility, while others may make the act difficult or impossible by causing erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness. Find out from your doctor how your medications will affect your sexual desire and performance. Medications are available to counteract most of these effects. Your doctor will help you find an appropriate treatment plan.

Close for comfort

Because of the emotional and physical strain cancer treatment can put on a patient, the desire for sex may wane. This is natural and can be remedied with counseling and/or romantic intimacy. Romance, physical closeness and mental stimulation can be substituted for intercourse at times when your love life may be on hold. Discuss psychological issues, such as fear and depression, with your doctor as soon as possible.