Being informed and prepared is one of the strategies to counteract the lack of desire, pain, and dryness that appears after this intervention, which often saves the lives of breast cancer patients.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the female population worldwide and one of the most common treatments to treat this disease is mastectomy, a surgery that involves the removal of the breast.
There are several types of mastectomy : simple or total, modified radical mastectomy, radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy, and subcutaneous mastectomy that preserves the nipple. Simple or total mastectomy is suitable for women who have several or large areas affected by cancer and for women who request preventive mastectomy, that is, removal of the breast to avoid any possibility of having breast cancer.
Each diagnosed woman lives a different story and it will be the medical team who will give her recommendations in order to decide whether or not this surgery applies to her health reality.
Sexuality is transformed with mastectomy
For many women, the treatment and diagnosis of breast cancer seriously affects their sexual lives. At first there are the most obvious factors, which include physical changes, tiredness, nausea and pain caused by treatment, personal image, lack of energy and the emotional situation of the diagnosis itself.
But when we talk about the particular effects of mastectomy, a study published by the "Revista Sanitaria de Investigación" was carried out to find out about the sexuality of mastectomized women before and after being diagnosed with breast cancer and to analyze the changes that occur in their sex lives after breast removal surgery, concluded that mastectomy women (participants in this study):
- They are less sexually active.
- They have pain during vaginal intercourse.
- They refer vaginal dryness.
- Difficulty reaching orgasm after the intervention.
- Decreased libido and trouble getting aroused.
- And those who used to feel pain during intercourse now have more difficulty getting aroused.
Maintaining privacy after mastectomy
There are many consequences of breast cancer on female sexuality, but once the critical phase of treatment is over, sexuality can become a support area in the recovery process. That is why today we focus on the possible options that women with a mastectomy have to address their sexuality:
- Physical changes: regardless of whether or not the woman decides to go through a phase of breast reconstruction through cosmetic surgery, every woman who experiences a mastectomy will suffer a series of physical changes when seeing and feeling without her breasts. . It is a process that must be accompanied by psychological and couples therapy that allows them to understand the physical experiences that their body will experience in the future and the questions that arise with the experience.
- Communication with the medical team: Even if the patient has already passed the postoperative period of the mastectomy, she should not be far from her medical team. On the contrary, you should continue to receive their advice. Even attending a consultation with the sexologist, who is of great help to continue with your intimate life.
- Support and support from support groups or friends who have been through the same situation are key to helping her. It is an important part of feeling confident and hearing the testimony of other similar experiences of women with mastectomy.
- Managing depression is a consequence that directly affects interest in sex. If the woman with a mastectomy feels depressed and cannot get over it, she should seek help when considering seeing a therapist. Also, keep in mind that some treatments for depression can cause a loss of sexual desire. Medications must be carefully administered and monitored by a specialized medical professional (usually a psychiatrist).
However, you should not ignore depression. It's important to make sure you seek help and to consider that there are some things that only time can heal.
- Loss of sexual desire : The breast is gone, possibly the woman has gained weight, she has no energy, she is tired and feels new pain. Added to this is the loss of desire and sexual appetite, now it is difficult for her to become aroused and reach orgasm. Either from pain relief medications, especially narcotics, or from decreased levels of estrogen, testosterone, or progesterone caused by breast cancer treatment. In that case, it is necessary to talk to the doctor to find the right solutions and the possibility of performing a hormonal analysis.
If you're having trouble with sex, it's a good idea to try satisfaction in ways other than orgasm for a while while you heal. It is recommended that you try to focus on the pleasure of touching, kissing and imagining things, and not so much on penetration. Playing down the vaginal orgasm can actually help it happen again faster than you expected. Even consider taking SexCoaching sessions to discover new ways of living your sexuality with the stimulation of the body.
- Reduce vaginal pain: Your sex life may be disrupted by vaginal pain that results from breast cancer treatment. Painful intercourse can destroy interest in sex faster than anything else. Vaginal ulcers that appear during some chemotherapy treatments are a main source of these pains. So you have to wait for the wounds to heal before trying vaginal penetration.
- Steroids and antibiotics can cause yeast infections in the mouth and vagina that also require medical treatment.
- Menopause (natural or induced) can cause the vaginal walls to weaken and shrink . Vaginal dryness (lack of natural lubrication) is another side effect of menopause. These conditions can contribute to feeling pain during sexual intercourse. In both cases, it is essential that you consult your doctor if you can use a feminine Intimate Moisturizing Gel such as Zenzsual, which contains high concentrations of vegan hyaluronic acid, a hormone-free, water-based product, with a pH balanced to normal in the genital area. Free of parabens, glycerin and not tested on animals. The intention of the product is to hydrate the female genital area due to its high content of hyaluronic acid, and balance the pH to alleviate the symptoms of dryness that may occur.
The important thing in this stage after the mastectomy and once the breast cancer has been overcome is personal acceptance, the support group that the woman has around her, from doctors, therapists, friends and family. And close communication with your partner to understand the new reality and appreciate sexuality with the new conditions.
We invite you to visit our online store TuSaludIntima to learn about Zenzsual's feminine care products and connect through our social networks, where we always publish videos, promotions, and informative tips for your feminine health and sexuality. Follow us on our social networks @tuSaludintima @DoctoraKlaraSenior and @Tu_Ginecologa.