Adapting to changes

There are several ways to prepare for sex and intimacy changes during or after cancer treatment:

Talk openly with your partner – Share any concerns you have about having sex or being intimate. Tell them when you’re ready to have sex, what level of intensity you prefer, if they should do anything differently and how they can help you to feel pleasure.

Ask your partner how they are feeling – They may be worried about hurting you or appearing too eager.

Take it slowly – It may be easier to start with cuddles or a sensual massage the first few times, rather than penetrative sex.

Plan ahead – Sex may be less unplanned after treatment because of needing to use vaginal lubricants or erection devices. Choose a time when pain and fatigue are at their lowest.

Explore different sexual practices – Some of the ways you used to enjoy having sex may be more difficult or not possible after cancer treatment. Keep an open mind about ways to feel sexual pleasure – explore different erogenous zones, such as the breasts, ears or thighs; mutual masturbation; oral sex; personal lubricants; vibrators and other sex toys; erotic images and stories; and sexual fantasies.

Focus on other aspects of your relationship – Many relationships do not depend on sex, but be mindful if this is important to your partner. Spend time together doing something you both enjoy.

Try exploring your sexuality on your own – Self-stimulation (masturbation) can help you understand what’s changed and what feels good, and you can then talk about this with your partner.

Use relaxation and meditation techniques – These can help you stay in the moment with your partner. Your treatment centre may run a program where you can learn such techniques, or may be able to direct you to organisations that run these programs.

Seek assistance – Talk to your doctor or ask for a referral to a sexual health physician or sex therapist to help you find solutions.

Be patient – Many people find that things often improve with time and practice.

If you’re a young adult

During and after cancer treatment, young people need to continue to develop and mature. This means living as normal a life as possible, which might include going on dates or having a girlfriend or boyfriend. These activities can feel especially challenging if you are dealing with changes to how you look or fertility issues, particularly if you haven’t had much experience of sex.

As well as talking to your treatment team and possibly seeing a sex therapist, you could get in touch with CanTeen.

CanTeen offers counselling in person or by phone, email or instant messaging. CanTeen also runs online forums and camps. To learn more call 1800 226 833.


Listen to our podcast on Sex and Cancer


Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet 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
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