Cancer and cancer treatment can change the body and how people feel about themselves, which can affect sexual function. A licensed psychologist with Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute Supportive Oncology and Rehabilitation Services can help address issues or concerns about sexual health. 

Schedule an in-person or virtual appointment by calling 816-932-4576.

A common concern

A large percentage of patients with cancer experience concerns related to their sexual health:

  • Up to 80%of breast cancer patients experience body dissatisfaction following cancer treatment for breast cancer
  • Women with breast or cervical cancer are two to three times more likely to experience sexual dysfunction than women with other types of cancers
  • 60% of men undergoing surgery for testicular cancer experience body image distress, which often leads to changes in emotional well-being and less frequent engagement in sexual activity
  • More than 40% of men experience erectile dysfunction

Cancer’s effect on sexual health

Lack of desire or arousal: Often caused by physical side effects of treatment, changes in mood, and other factors such as changes in hormones, relationship conflict, or body image distress

Pain: Often caused by changes in the quality of the skin, vaginal tissue or size, and vaginal dryness due to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy  

Premature menopause: Menopause-related symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and weight gain are caused by some cancer treatments and contribute to low desire, pain during intercourse, and avoidance of intimacy due to discomfort

Orgasm: Difficulty achieving orgasm can be caused by pain during intercourse, anxiety related to intimacy, or biological factors related to treatment

Treating underlying causes

Because many factors contribute to issues with sexual health, Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute’s licensed psychologists work to treat underlying causes. We can help patients address:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Managing stress
  • Enhancing communication with intimate partner(s)
  • Learning other techniques and strategies to navigate sexual dysfunction
  • Relationship-related factors that may be impacting the sexual health of the couple

Schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with a psychologist by calling 816-932-4576.