Your body image and sexuality Dealing with an altered body image and changes in your sexuality can be particuarly difficult for younger women. Most women will experience changes.
Some changes will be treatment induced and possibly short-term, but some women will have long-term effects. The feelings you experience may be unexpected. They can leave you feeling unsure of where to seek help and possibly embarrassed to talk about it. Body image Changes you may experience Some women experience a loss of self-esteem and confidence.
Surgery can cause a number of different physical changes including scars, pains, hormonal changes and menopause, loss of fertility and sometimes the need of a stoma a surgically created opening on your abdomen to allow waste to exit the body. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss, fatigue, tiredness and nausea or vomiting. All these factors can have an impact on how you feel about yourself and may have an impact on your relationships with family, friends and intimate partners and you may find that you question who you are now.
But it is improving and the scars are fading. Coming to terms with the new you will take time. For some women it takes weeks and for others months or even longer. Give yourself time to adjust to your new normal.
Before treatment, talk to your medical team about what body changes to expect so that you can prepare yourself. Be prepared for relatives and friends to ask questions about your treatment, and for questions or comments about your appearance.
Having thought about how you will respond will make it easier. If you prefer not to talk about it, let people know. Healthy lifestyle changes such as exercise, good nutrition, meditation and complementary therapies such as aromatherapy, reflexology, acupuncture or massage can help you to feel better and manage stress.
It may help to write about your feelings, or talk about them with a trusted person. I got more confident in myself walking around without a head scarf on at home or when I went round to my neighbours and they got used to it.
Changes that you may experience Lower sex drive The loss of testosterone a hormone produced by men and women after a surgical menopause may affect your sex drive. Your sex drive is dependent not just on your hormones but also on your general wellbeing, satisfaction with relationships, stress, tiredness and self-esteem.
You or your partner may experience low desire due to the range of emotions you are both dealing with in order to come to terms with your diagnosis. You may find sex no longer gives you pleasure, or is painful, and this may affect your sex drive. Vaginal dryness and painful sex After a surgical menopause, the changes in your oestrogen levels cause changes to your vagina and the tissues surrounding it.
The vagina may not be as moist as it previously was and lubrication can be a problem. This can make sex painful and cause vaginal itching and dryness. This is very common but easy to treat. Due to hormonal changes some women feel differently about sex after menopause, and arousal and their orgasm may not be the same as before.
Some women develop internal scarring and adhesions that may cause pain each time they have sex. Not being sufficiently aroused can also lead to painful sex and vice versa; painful sex can lead to loss of arousal. Discussing your worries and fears, or what hurts during sex will help you to work out a solution. Be open and honest with yourself and your partner. This will help you feel more relaxed and resolve any problems. Ask your partner what they are concerned about too. Talking to each other can deepen your relationship and have a positive effect on intimacy.
For instance you may decide to avoid sex for a while but concentrate on kissing and cuddling, or you may try longer foreplay and different positions. Your CNS can advise you or refer you to a sexual health specialist.
Painful sex can prevent some women from experiencing an orgasm. It may be that sex is only painful when first having intercourse following surgery and it will settle as your body recovers. Lubricants can improve sensation and moistness.
Non hormonal vaginal moisturisers are available to relieve symptoms and vaginally applied oestrogen may be offered as a long-term treatment. Hormones are important in sexual desire and response.
Be kind and pamper yourself. Looking after yourself can help build your self-image back up. July Date of next review: