According to A manifesto on the preservation of sexual function in women and girls with cancer published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “female patients who are treated for cancer generally receive insufficient counseling, support, or treatment to preserve or regain sexual function after cancer treatment.”
“As progress is being made every day in curing or significantly controlling breast cancer, quality of life as it relates to sex is an important consideration post treatment,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Yale University and Founder of MadameOvary.com. “And, since many medical professionals are not typically well-versed in the intimacy and sexual issues of breast cancer survivors, it falls on women to seek the latest tools and solutions to common complaints and issues that accompany depleted estrogen levels because of treatment; among these are body image, vaginal dryness, and early onset menopause.”
Women can find relief of vaginal dryness by using a hormone-free vaginal moisturizer like Replens to promote healing of the tissues inside the vagina and for cracking, burning or irritation to the skin outside of the vagina, Replens Moisture Restore External Comfort Gel can soothe and relieve irritation, discomfort and chafing. Using these solutions can help women return to enjoyable intimacy and normal daily activities like walking, prolonged sitting and exercising. Prescription estrogen therapies like Vagifem tablets, Estrodial and Premarin can also be used to treat dryness symptoms. Vaginal dryness can also cause painful sex. It is essential to use a good silicone lubricant just before intercourse like Replens Silky Smooth or WET Platinum, to enhance and ease intimacy while decreasing abrasion.
Many survivors report low sexual desire and an inability to orgasm. Physical arousal and sex can now be enhanced naturally, without negative side effects. Fiera is a personal device that uses a combination of suction and gentle stimulation, encouraging clitoral blood flow and vaginal lubrication, signaling to the body that its ready for sex.
The stress of cancer treatment alone causes many women to discuss with their doctor the use of antidepressants like Venlafaxine, Fluoxetine or Paroxetine. Select medications have been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of hot flashes, but adverse side effects like weight gain or decreased libido do remain a risk.
Building back confidence after treatment is vital in normalizing a woman’s sex life. Women might consider taking a daily supplement like Vitafusion Gorgeous Hair, Skin & Nails with Biotin and Vitamins C & E helps to nourish dry hair and nails and brings back the skins natural glow.
“If you or someone you know is a breast cancer survivor and are facing these major challenges, talk to your medical provider about the best solution plan for you,” adds Minkin. “Avoiding these concerns does not make them disappear, so voice them! Women are fortunate to now have safe and effective solutions that can help them get back to enjoying life again.”
For more information and helpful resources on breast cancer survivorship and menopause, visit www.madameovary.com.
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