The ability to interact intimately is one of the natural pleasures and joys of life. But cancer and cancer treatment can affect sexual health in a number of ways. Cancer surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and other treatments may result in changes to anatomy and function, body image, libido and other factors that affect sexual life. Addressing these side effects is an important part of your cancer care, and as vital as pain management, physical therapy and emotional well-being.
These side effects do not have to become permanent. We can manage and improve them and help minimize the cost of cure from cancer.Ahmed Aly Hussein Aly, MD
Conditions we treat
The most common sexual side effects patients face include:
- Pain with intercourse
- Lack of interest and low libido
- Vulvar or vaginal dryness
- Physical changes to the breasts, vagina, skin and other body areas
- Changing body image
- Lack of pleasure or difficulty reaching orgasm
- Anxiety, depression and fear regarding intimacy
- Problems with erections or ejaculation
- Low testosterone level, or hypogonadism, which can produce symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, cognitive issues and decreased sexual drive
- Urinary leakage, or difficulty with urination
- Neurogenic bladder, a condition caused by neuropathy of the nerves that control the bladder. This can lead to a wide spectrum of symptoms, including inability to urinate, loss of bladder sensation, irritative voiding and more frequent urination
How we can help
We understand that these issues may be difficult to talk about. A visit at our clinic will include a physical exam and compassionate discussion with either a gynecologic oncologist or a urologist. They will take the time to hear you and offer real solutions to help you regain a healthy sexual life. Some of the approaches recommended include:
- Pelvic physical therapy
- Adjusting medications
- Procedures to correct function, address pain and/or scarring
- Lubricants, creams and other devices
- Pelvic physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles that help to control urine flow and sexual function
- Testosterone supplementation
- Placement of an artificial urinary sphincter
- Placement of penile implant
Who is eligible?
Any patient or survivor whose sexual life is affected by side effects related to cancer, its treatment or prevention.
Make an appointment
Ask your Roswell Park physician or anyone on your care team for a referral to our Sexual Health Clinics, or call Patient Access at 1-800-ROSWELL.