I was planning to end March’s In Focus menopause posts with the topic of sex and intimacy but as it came up on the forum this week in a post by LosLabido I thought I would make it the topic for this week. Sex and intimacy is so individual; this is just to provide some resources and information so you can pick and choose what is relevant for you.
There are various ways menopause can affect sex and intimacy, including lack of interest in sex, difficulty becoming aroused, and finding sex painful. How this is treated depends on the causes of the problems. Your CNS will be able to help and also to refer you to a specialist if needed.
Lack of oestrogen can cause vaginal dryness and atrophy (thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls). Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants can help with this. Vaginal Moisturisers include Replens, Hyalofemme and Regelle and are usually applied every 2-3 days. Lubricants can reduce discomfort during sex and include Senselle, Yes, Sylk, Pjur, Vielle. It is advisable to use a water-based lubricant which doesn’t contain glycerine, as glycerine can increase irritation. Water-based lubricants can be less slippery than those with glycerine so you may want to use a bit more.
You can also be prescribed vaginal oestrogen (usually as a pessary) but this would need discussion with your oncologist as it is a hormone treatment.
For a lower libido HRT and also testosterone can help, but HRT in ovarian cancer is a complex issue and this would need discussion with your oncologist. Counselling and CBT can also help if depression/anxiety/low self-esteem is having an impact.
Macmillan has information on their website here: macmillan.org.uk/informatio...
The Sexual Advice Association is a charity working to improve sexual health and wellbeing. They have factsheets for women on their website here: sexualadviceassociation.co....
They also have a booklet called Sex and Intimacy for Cancer Patients here: sexualadviceassociation.co....
Will 2 Love is a US-based organisation providing information for people affected by cancer, around sexual wellness. They have a lot of information on their website here: will2love.com/resources/
The Institute of Psychosexual Medicine has a list of practitioners who are doctors with training in psychosexual medicine. The list is on their website here: ipm.org.uk/25/find-a-doctor
The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) is a UK membership organisation for therapists specialising in sexual and relationship issues. They have information on their website about sex after a cancer diagnosis here: cosrt.org.uk/information-fo... They have a list of sex and relationship therapists on their website here: cosrt.org.uk/information-fo...
The Mutton Club is a website for women in mid-life. It’s not cancer specific but it has a lot of information on menopause here: themuttonclub.com/category/...
If you have any questions or need any further information do get in touch with me, you can private message me through the forum or give me a ring on 0800 008 7054.
Ovacome Support Service Manager