Removal of a body part

If your cancer treatment involved the removal of a limb, breast or part of your genitals, it can cause feelings of grief, loss and anger. It will take time to get used to how your body and body image have changed. All this can affect your sexual desire and your sexual confidence. Try to remind yourself that you are loved for who you are, not for your particular body parts. For ideas and information on restoring body image, see Changes in appearance.

People who’ve had a breast or testicle removed may want to consider a prosthesis to improve appearance and self-esteem. This is a personal decision. Your specialist can give you more detailed information about your options and what the procedure involves.

Men who have sex with men

Men who have sex with men may face particular issues after some types of surgery. If the prostate is removed, there may be reduced sexual pleasure and arousal during anal penetration. Research shows that gay and bisexual men can find these changes particularly difficult to come to terms with.

The removal of the anus is a major change, but many men still enjoy other types of sexual activities. However, intercourse via the stoma can be dangerous, and sexually transmitted infections can be passed on through the stoma.

For more information visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s website, and download the information pack for gay and bisexual men.


Tips for adjusting to the removal of a body part

  • Look at yourself naked in the mirror to get used to the changes to your body or use a handheld mirror to see the genital area. Also show your partner the body changes. Accept that it may take time to feel comfortable about your body again.
  • Touch your genitals to work out how your response has changed and what feels good. Explore other areas of your body that make you feel aroused when touched. This may take time and practice.
  • If you are worried about the reaction of your partner (or a potential partner), remember that good communication will help. Sharing your concerns and keeping an open mind will help you explore new ways to be intimate.
  • Ask your partner to stroke different areas of your body if your usual erogenous zone has been affected. This may include kissing and touching your neck, ears, inner thighs and genital area.
  • If you’ve had a limb removed, try wearing your limb prosthesis during sex. If you prefer to take off the prosthesis, use pillows to support the affected limb.
  • Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to talk to someone neutral about your feelings.
  • Register for a Look Good Feel Better workshop or call 1800 650 960.
  • Talk to a sexual health physician or sexual therapist about the ways any change to your body may be affecting your sex life and relationship. See The Society of Australian Sexologists Ltd to find an accredited sexologist near you.

For more on this, see Breast Prostheses and Reconstruction.


Listen to our podcast on Sex and Cancer


Click on the icon below to download a PDF on Sexuality, Intimacy and Cancer.


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in May 2019
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Life after cancer treatment
Webinars, exercise and nutrition, sexuality programs, and back-to-work support

Cancer information

Your coping toolbox
Strategies for managing difficult situations during and after cancer treatment

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends

SHARE
TOP BACK TO TOP