For Women, Sex Problems Common After Breast Cancer

woman sleeping on top of man
Sex, Self

More women are reporting problems with sex and low self-esteem following their diagnosis.

Every year, 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Besides the physical and emotional toll from fighting the disease, new reports have shown that the vast majority of survivors hesitate to discuss the sex problems caused by treatment. According to the Journal of Sexual medicine, seven out of 10 survivors report difficulty having good sex after cancer.

While an estimated 40 to 45 percent of women in general have encountered some sort of sexual problem, a survey of more than 1,000 Australian women under age 70 revealed that sex tends to goes downhill soon after a breast cancer diagnosis: a whopping 70 percent of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer reported major problems between the sheets just two years later. How To Keep Your Sex Drive From Dying A Slow Death

These problems include female sexual dysfunction and augmented menopausal symptoms (which include sensitivity to pain and a decreased sex drive). A significant number of women who underwent lumpectomies and mastectomies said that the procedures affected their body image and reconstructive surgery did not significantly boost the body image of women who had their original breasts removed. What Sex And Cancer Have In Common

In light of these findings, doctors interviewed by CNN are encouraging patients to express their concerns instead of hiding them. "We have to empower women to have the confidence to ask about this," Dr. Christine Derzko, from the University of Toronto, said. "And we have to enlighten physicians to the fact that it is an issue." 31 Ways To Maintain A Healthy Sex Life

The pressure to perform well in the bedroom is tough enough without the aid of cancer, so by educating patients on the sexual side effects of cancer treatments, physicians can assuage women's insecurities about her diminished sex drive. Cancer drugs can curb estrogen production, and the treatment itself can unleash hot flashes and night sweats. Researchers found that women taking aromatose inhibitors, which subdue tumors, "were 50 percent more likely to develop sexual problems than those not on the drugs."