Home Health Intimacy should not be forgotten even after a diagnosis of cancer – breaking latest news

Intimacy should not be forgotten even after a diagnosis of cancer – breaking latest news

by admin
from Vera Martinella

Today it is possible to choose therapies that allow you to continue to have a satisfying sex life. But it is necessary for the sick to overcome the embarrassment of discussing the subject with the doctors

The name clearly inspired by the successful TV series, chosen to clear a theme that remains difficult even in 2021. It is called Sex and the cancer. What women do not say and a project born a year ago with the aim of breaking both the many tabs that patients themselves have when it comes to dealing with sexuality during or after therapies for a tumor, and the silence of doctors, still not inclined to address the subject which thus ends up being completely neglected in the great majority of cases. Shame, embarrassment and lack of information are the most widespread attitudes – he underlines Amalia Vetromile, cancer patient, responsible and creator of the initiative, who recently organized a conference dedicated to the training of doctors and health professionals to raise awareness on the subject -. We are facing a new sexual tab that is not talked about because those directly affected often have discomfort in confiding it to their doctor, partner and even closest friends. Furthermore, the therapies available are sometimes expensive and not always available through the National Health Service.

Overcoming the blanket of silence

The discomfort in addressing the topic is even greater if the cancer affects humans and almost all patients live badly in the mistaken belief that nothing can be done to improve their condition. Instead, the solutions available to stem, if not completely eliminate, the various disorders of the sexual sphere today exist, but it is essential to overcome the blanket of silence. An important step to take also in the light of a great achievement – he underlines Saverio Cinieri, elected president of the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) -: the number of people who recover from cancer, or who manage to live with it for years, making it a “chronic disease”, growing. They are people who can, while keeping the long-term side effects of therapies under control, live well. They are entitled to a full quality of life which certainly includes a satisfying intimacy. When it comes to dealing with anti-cancer treatments today, specialists have developed techniques that allow you to defend sexuality, both at a surgical level, with interventions that save the affected areas when feasible, and by adopting certain precautions in the area when it is necessary to irradiate. It is possible, especially when the patient is young, to opt for a solution that preserves erectile function in males and saves ovarian activity, with the production of hormones, in women – adds Cinieri -. Premature menopause, induced by some therapies, can contribute to the onset of sexual dysfunction due to hormonal deficiency. But it is important that these are addressed by doctors first, making it easier for patients to ask the questions they are interested in.

Intimate problems for 6 out of 10 patients

In 2020, about 377 thousand new cases of cancer were discovered in Italy and 3.6 million compatriots are alive after a cancer diagnosis: at least one in four patients, almost one million people, can be considered completely cured. How many have problems with intimacy? According to various studies, about 60% and can be caused, in women and men, by both surgical interventions and radiotherapy and drugs, chemo and hormones. The impact of cancer on sexuality is different for each and depends on the interaction of various factors – he explains Adriana Bonifacino, oncologist in charge of Senology at the Sant’Andrea Hospital in Rome and president of the IncontraDonna Onlus association -: the type of cancer and treatments to which it undergoes, the prognosis, the age, the existence or not of a couple relationship , the experience of one’s own sexuality before the disease. There may be real physiological consequences, caused by the operation to remove the neoplasm, or alterations in sexual desire and psychological consequences.


Recurrent vaginal and urinary infections, erectile dysfunction, irritation, itching, poor lubrication, vaginitis and vaginal dryness, pain on penetration and decreased desire are the most frequent symptoms, but there are some therapeutic solutions. There are treatments for both males (such as various erectile dysfunction medicines) and females (creams, ointments, gels or lasers). And psychological support can prove to be very useful for overcoming difficult moments: sometimes precautions are enough, for the sick person and for the couple. Depending on the disorder and always evaluating the situation of the individual patient, we can prescribe effective drugs – explains Chiara Simonelli, professor of Psychology and Psychopathology of Sexual Development at the La Sapienza University of Rome -. It is not only the treatments that affect hormones and libido, but also the mood. It is therefore important to know how to recognize and expose one’s feelings, to elaborate them if possible also together with the partner, who perhaps does not know what to do or say and what to avoid. And when that happens, rather than feeling frustrated by not being able to resume old habits, it’s important to explore new ways to give and receive pleasure.

Dealing with the crisis together can strengthen the bond

Recent studies have shown that how the partner reacts to the patient’s illness also depends on the nature of their intimate relationship. Dealing with the crisis together can strengthen the bond. Other times, however, the disease causes a break that was often already underway, perhaps not yet evident. The consequences on intimacy are sometimes transitory – he explains Chiara Simonelli -, related to the duration of a treatment or post-operation. It must also be considered that when one’s body image is altered, in cases where the disease leaves indelible marks, even self-esteem inevitably suffers. If talking to a doctor is difficult, entrenching oneself in silence leads only to isolation. Psychological support and counseling with sexologists can make a big difference in getting out of a difficult time sooner and better. When so, the uncertainties are many: is it better to try to get closer, to insist delicately, to tackle the issue if the other is silent? Or wait? Unexpressed assumptions or fears are always a source of misunderstanding – the expert -. Instead of isolating oneself or brooding over, asking the other person’s motivations can serve to initiate an open dialogue.

December 3, 2021 (change December 3, 2021 | 11:53 am)

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