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Sexuality - II. Symptoms and Strategies
How will I deal with intimacy?
The emotional and physical ramifications of cancer and cancer therapy can adversely affect a person's sexuality. Anxiety survival, changes in body image, the welfare of family members, or finances can inhibit the expression of sexuality. These feelings can create concerns about desirability.
Other sexual problems may be the result of a physical problem related to either the cancer itself or its treatment. Fortunately, there are medical treatments that can alleviate these concerns. A decline in erectile function, common in men with prostate cancer, can be treated with external penile vacuum devices, injections, prosthetic penile implants, or prescription medication such as Viagra, Cialis, or Lavitra. In women, problems include increased or decreased vaginal discharge caused by chemo-hormonal therapy drugs or a narrowing of the vagina due to radiation of the pelvis. Such conditions can be treated using medical creams, lubricants, hormone replacement therapy, or vaginal dilations.
If you are experiencing emotional or physical problems with your sexuality, you can take charge by discussing them with your partner and/or consulting your physician or a sex therapist. With proper counseling and/or appropriate medical intervention, the chances are excellent that you will be able to maintain or regain a healthy sexual self-image despite the temporary or permanent changes wrought by cancer.
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