Sex after Double Mastectomy no Recon.

I am surprised by the lack of comments about recommencing intimate relationships after mastectomy.
Sex can be such a positive and wonderful part of a relationship, maintaining connectedness, expressing longing and desire, and intimately knowing each other. The release of feelings. But even in a close, and long term relationship its pretty scary after surgery to try and rebuild, every so slowly, those connections, and perhaps will we ever feel confident again?
Of course, not every person is fortunate enough to be in a relationship, or in a relationship that allows for safe sexual expression, and I acknowledge that. I'm sorry, I can only speak from where I am now.
I think we all need a safe space to discuss the hurdles of sexual relationships after surgery.

Breasts are part of our sexual identity - I imagine for most people.

what I would like to say is this. We put it off for a bit.

I was just starting to rebuild a bit of joy in my life, after the initial grieving, the early grief that is so profound and sad, and then we had sex.
I liken it to when the stockmarket plummets. You bought shares at $5 and they are now 'worth' 20c. If you don't sell them, they may regain their value eventually. But when you sell them the losses are realised.
So having sex for the first time afterwards, I felt, for me personally was like selling the shares when the market is low. The losses are realised. While we didn't have sex, all my memories are pleasant, and I remember good things, I'm still worth $5. But once we did, that joy of all the things that involved my boobs (so many parts of sex involve boobs I realise...) are suddenly screaming very loudly. It was profoundly sorrowful for me. I felt my missing "$4.80" and its going to take a lot of work, compassion, love and time for both of us to discover and create a new $4.80.

We have been here before, finding our new normal after surgery has changed the way  our relationship works. We will get there. It's different, its never the same, but it can still be good.

I have listened to Dr Charlotte Tottman's podcast 'what you don't know til you know' - I know it will get better, we will find new tricks, new rituals, new joys. I just wanted to put this out there in the universe.


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
    Some of the special groups have discussed sexual relations post cancer treatment, particularly the effects some treatment can have on both libido and the vagina. It’s a hugely varied subject depending on relationships, duration of relationships and treatment, age, expectations, prior sexual experience, you name it! It’s also really personal - some are happy to share, others not so much. Main thing is that those having difficulties resuming their sex life (some never stopped) might have some support and good advice. 
  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,311
    edited December 2022
    Hi @Broccoli, as Afraser mentioned there are private groups like the Lets talk about vaginas, however you right to say there isn't much discussion really.

     Even our medical people don't discuss it. There is no warning about libidos or dryness or anything from surgeon or oncologist. I recall my oncologist giving me a sheet on my meds and a passing comment about side effects of my AIs. It really should be discussed more openly as a side effect of breast cancer. 

    My husband actually asked the oncologist nurse about sex during chemo, not because he was wanting to put any pressure on me but we did both wonder about it.  The nurse said no one ever asks about it so she was actually shocked when he did. She did eventually say that we should not have sex for a few days after a treatment because those toxic chemo drugs could impact the cells on his penis if we did.

    The fact is cancer treatment does impact libidos, vaginally dryness and more. Having a loving relationship helps to restart a sexual relationship post treatment. It all takes time and understanding. 

    There no doubt should be more discussion straight up about this so we are all prepared. Perhaps the silence is due to the privacy most have about their sexual relationships. Thank you for bringing the subject up. There might be others who add to this. 
  • Broccoli
    Broccoli Member Posts: 16
    So many different aspects. I can't begin to grasp all the many challenges different treatments present. Its healthy to acknowledge them.
    For those of us 'fortunate' enough to have 'only' lost our breasts and not have any other treatments, the hurdles are still great. Sometimes I just get fed up of feeling grateful, and need to mourn my losses. The grief is real wherever our own journey has fallen.  Perhaps DMX deserves its own private group. Let's talk vaginas isn't probably for people not on hormone affecting medications?
    Thanks for your inputs, I am sure there are plenty of folk who gain strength from reading, but feel unable to contribute. I feel that as not many people know my nickname is broccoli I'm fairly anonymous and can express myself somewhat freely. 
  • TonyaM
    TonyaM Member Posts: 2,836
    Hi @Broccoli, I hear ya! My husband has just been gradually conditioned to not touch the no go zone. I had a lumpectomy and radiation back in 2003 and it basically left my left breast too uncomfortable to touch so right breast got the action! Then I had bc again in 2010 and had to have that breast removed. After that I no longer did naked in bed-I was 54yrs. Now at 67,I ‘ve just had the other breast removed and I’m flat and don’t like my chest touched. I’ve mourned the loss of my remaining breast and it was a big decision to remove it.But I look in the mirror and tell myself it’s the price you’ve paid for your life and no more bc worries. I don’t let my husband see my chest or touch my chest- whether that is normal or not,I don’t care.But it certainly enables me to have good sex without feeling awkward.My husband is understanding but then again, he’s in his 70’s.I’d hate to negotiate this in our forties. My mastectomy was only 5mths ago so I’m still navigating this ‘flat’ life.I may have more wisdom to impart in a few years time.