Episode 2: Sex and Cancer

4 July 2017

Expert interviewed:
Professor Jane Ussher, Western Sydney University

Jane and JulieThe thing about cancer is that it can really affect your sex life.

In this episode of The Thing About Cancer podcast, Julie McCrossin talks with Professor Jane Ussher about why it’s so important to have an open and honest conversation about sex with your doctor and your partner.

Today, more than ever, sex is all around us – in magazines, movies, TV and on the internet. Yet sex is still a taboo subject, and people rarely talk openly about their own sex lives. This is even more the case for people with cancer.

But sex impacts every part of our lives, from our identity, to who we choose as a partner, to our feelings of self-esteem and our place in the world.

After a diagnosis, sex may be the last thing on your mind. In the long term, however, it can be a real issue, especially if you find out that your cancer treatment has had an impact on your sex life – which in turn can impact your relationship with your partner, and your overall quality of life.

Professor Jane Ussher, Western Sydney University

Listen to Sex and Cancer now, or find more episodes here.


Let’s talk about sex 

Telling your doctor you’re having problems with your sex life probably isn’t easy. And some doctors themselves aren’t necessarily comfortable with raising this topic either.

Jane talks about good ways to bring up the issue with your doctor, if they aren’t raising it themselves, or if they seem unresponsive. She also explains that it’s not just the physical impact of cancer that can affect how you feel about sex, but also the emotional impact. 

Sex may be hard to talk about, but the truth is your sex life may really change after your cancer diagnosis, and perhaps you won’t be able to do the things you normally do with your partner – Jane gives some helpful tips on how to have an open conversation about it across various scenarios.

  – Professor Jane Ussher, Western Sydney University

Sex during and after cancer: the big questions

In this podcast, Jane tackles the big questions.

Questions like: How do I tell my partner I have cancer, and how will this affect our relationship? Will my partner still find me attractive? Does the experience of sex change after diagnosis? What are other ways I can be intimate with my partner, and keep things spicy in our relationship?

Is there any good news? Jane thinks there is. Find out why many people say their sex life actually gets better after cancer.


Want more information or support?

If you heard something mentioned in the podcast, you’ll find a link to it below. We’ve also added links to other sources of information and support.

From Cancer Council NSW 

From other organisations 

Listen to Sex and Cancer now, or find more episodes here.

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