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  • Writer's pictureThe After Cancer

Sex therapy for cancer survivors: what you need to know


A sex therapist can help cancer patients and survivors address these challenges and improve their sexual health and well-being.

Cancer and its treatment can take a toll on a patient's physical and emotional health, including their sexual health. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Cancer survivors may also experience physical and emotional changes that affect their sexual function and desire. These issues can have a significant impact on a patient's quality of life and their relationship with their partner.


Fortunately, sex therapy can help cancer patients and survivors address these challenges and improve their sexual health and well-being. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of sex therapy and what you can expect from this type of therapy.


What is sex therapy?

Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy that focuses on addressing sexual issues and concerns. The therapy can be conducted individually or with a partner, and it typically involves a series of sessions with a trained therapist. Sex therapists are trained to help patients explore their feelings and attitudes about sex, identify specific sexual issues, and develop strategies to improve sexual function and satisfaction.

Sex therapy can help patients and survivors address a wide range of sexual issues, including:

  • Low sexual desire

  • Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)

  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)

  • Difficulty achieving an orgasm

  • Vaginal dryness or tightness

  • Loss of sexual confidence or self-esteem

  • Fear or anxiety related to sexual activity

  • Relationship issues related to sexual dysfunction


Why do cancer patients and survivors need sex therapy?

Cancer treatments can cause a variety of sexual problems. For example, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and erectile dysfunction. Surgery can also lead to sexual dysfunction, especially if the patient undergoes a procedure that affects the pelvic region. Additionally, cancer treatments can lead to hormonal changes that can affect sexual desire and function.

Cancer survivors may also experience psychological issues that affect their sexual health. Survivors may feel anxious or depressed about their diagnosis, treatment, or prognosis. They may also experience body image issues, which can affect their sexual confidence and self-esteem.

Sex therapy can help cancer patients and survivors address these issues by providing a safe and supportive environment to explore their feelings and attitudes about sex. The therapy can help patients develop coping strategies to manage sexual dysfunction, improve communication with their partner, and enhance their sexual satisfaction and well-being.


What can I expect from sex therapy?

Sex therapy typically involves a series of one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist. The number of sessions can vary depending on the patient's needs and goals. In the first session, the therapist will conduct a comprehensive assessment to gather information about the patient's sexual history, concerns, and goals. The therapist may also conduct physical exams or order tests to rule out underlying medical conditions that may be causing sexual dysfunction.

Once the therapist has gathered the necessary information, they will work with the patient to develop a personalized treatment plan. The plan may include:

  • Education about sexual anatomy and function

  • Behavioral exercises to improve sexual function

  • Techniques to manage anxiety and stress related to sexual activity

  • Strategies to improve communication with a partner

  • Counseling to address relationship issues related to sexual dysfunction

  • Referral to a specialist for further evaluation or treatment (e.g., a urologist or gynecologist)

The therapist may also recommend exercises or homework assignments for the patient to complete between sessions to reinforce the skills and techniques learned in therapy.


Conclusion

Cancer and its treatment can have a significant impact on a patient's sexual health and well-being. Sex therapy can help patients and survivors address these issues and improve their sexual function, satisfaction, and quality of life.

 

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