Reclaiming Intimacy after Cancer

Coping with Cancer magazine, which is ubiquitous in oncologists’ offices and cancer care centers, recently ran an article of mine on reclaiming intimacy during and after cancer treatment. I’ve pasted the introduction here, and I encourage you to read it if you’ve experienced cancer first-hand or as the partner of someone who has.

One Step at a Time: Reclaiming Intimacy after Cancer
By Melanie Davis, PhD

You may have crossed sexual intimacy off your priority list when you found out you had cancer. If you’re in active treat­ment, you may not feel like being sexual in the same ways you were before diag­nosis. After treatment, sex may still seem unappealing or even painful. This is all normal. But if you’re ready to bring sexual intimacy back into your life, you can work through the challenges – one small step at a time.
Many people think of sexual intimacy as sexual in­tercourse or other genital stimulation resulting in orgasm, including any ac­tivities that lead up to it. However, if you broaden your definition of intimacy to include other pleasures that may or may not lead to orgasm, you can be sexually intimate without the pressure to engage in activities that aren’t com­fortable for you right now.
Sexually intimate activity can be goal oriented or non-goal oriented. Goal-oriented activities are considered complete when they end in orgasm. The problem with goal-oriented sexual inti­macy is that there’s a chance of failure if you or your partner do not experience orgasm. Failure can be frustrating, es­pecially if it happens on a regular basis.

Read the full article here.