Understanding Sex and CancerDownload this book (pdf, 1.07 mb)
What is sexuality and intimacy?
Sexuality is not just about sexual intercourse. It is about who you are, how you feel about yourself, how you express yourself sexually and your sexual feelings for others.
Sexuality differs from person to person. It is influenced by many factors, including religion, culture, age and situation.
Sexuality is expressed in many ways: the clothes you wear, the way you move, the way you have sex and who you have sex with. The way you groom yourself, including the aftershave you wear, also expresses your sexuality.
We are all sexual beings, and having cancer, or whether or not we have a partner, doesn't change that.
Intimacy means being physically and emotionally close to someone else. It is about loving and being loved. It is expressed in different ways: talking personally, sharing a meaningful experience, or through physical affection.
Cancer affects sexuality and intimacy in physical and emotional ways. Addressing changes early on may help you and your partner adjust more easily.
Is intimacy different to sexuality?
For most couples, intimacy is a major part of their shared lives. However, intimacy doesn't have to result in sex. Enjoying time alone together, kissing, cuddling, caressing and talking are other ways of being intimate and showing love. Sharing intimacy allows people to feel valued.
Some form of intimacy is also important for people who aren't engaging in sexual activity. Non-sexual touch through holding hands, hugging or massage can be valuable for people's well-being, offering them comfort, reassurance and a connection to others.