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Body Image and Sexuality After Breast Cancer

From the American Cancer society:

Learning to be comfortable with your body during and after breast cancer treatment is a personal journey, one that is different for every woman. Information and support can help you cope with these changes over time.

Feeling good about your body during and after breast cancer treatment

Along with the emotional stress that cancer and its treatment can cause, many women with breast cancer also find themselves coping with changes in their appearance as a result of their treatment.

Some changes may be short term, such as hair loss. But even short-term changes can have a profound effect on how a woman feels about herself. A number of options are available to help you cope with hair loss, including wigs, hats, scarves, and other accessories. Alternatively, some women choose to use their baldness as a way to identify themselves as breast cancer survivors.

Other changes are more permanent, like the loss of part or all of a breast (or breasts) after surgery. Some women choose to have reconstructive surgery to rebuild the breast mound. If you decide not to have breast reconstruction, you can decide whether to wear a breast form or prosthesis or not.

Sexuality after breast cancer

You may have concerns about sexuality after breast cancer. Physical changes, especially after breast surgery, can make some women less comfortable with their bodies. There may be a loss of sensation in the affected breast. Other treatments for breast cancer, such as chemotherapy, can change your hormone levels and may affect your sexual interest and/or response.

Relationship issues are also important. Your partner may worry about how to express love physically and emotionally after treatment, especially after surgery. But breast cancer can be a growth experience for couples – especially when partners take part in decision-making and go along to treatments.

To learn more, see their section on sexuality for women with cancer.

Go to the SHARE website sharecancersupport.org to listen to Webinar: Your Sexuality After Cancer: Join us as we address the physical, psychological, and

relationship issues that often emerge. Explore strategies to achieve happiness and fulfillment. Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD, is a psychiatrist specializing in sex therapy and sexual medicine, as well as nutritional and fundamental approaches to medicine.

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