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Awkward Auntie Question No. 10

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Ever had a question about relationships or sex that you just can’t ask your oncology care provider?  Ever felt too shy to ask a nurse or doctor a question but really need the answer?  Now you can ask those questions and get answers from Dr. Anne Katz, the Awkward Auntie!

Question: My Libido is all over the place. Is there anything I can do to make it more consistent? Sometimes dryness is a problem, which I use lubricants. Other times I am too sensitive. I also want to know if there is something to help with sensitivity. I can’t take estrogen because that will mess everything else up. (Female, Papillary Thyroid survivor)

Awkward Auntie: I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘all over the place’ but because you also say you would like it to be more consistent, I am going along the path that sometimes you are interested in sex and sometimes not. On the one hand, this is a common experience for many women due to hormonal changes in their menstrual cycle with libido often peaking just before ovulation, Mother Nature wants to potentiate our ability to get pregnant! On the other hand, libido is not merely hormonal and is affected by other more social factors such as stress, fatigue, how we feel about our self and our partner. The dryness and sensitivity you mention can also cause a decrease in libido – if sex or sexual touch hurts, libido drops because we are (usually) aversive to pain.

Using a lube is great – just make sure that it does not contain a whole lot of ingredients that cause irritation – colors, flavors, anything warming or cooling or intensifying. Many lubricants contain glycerin and alcohol and these can cause problems by altering the normal pH of the vagina. The simpler the better and often a silicone lubricant is the best – look for ‘-cone’ at the end of the word (should be just one word) in the list of ingredients.

If you haven’t seen an endocrinologist as part of your treatment/recovery I would strongly recommend that you do so. These experts in hormonal issues usually know more about the topic than oncologists and will give you the best evidence-based suggestion for managing life (and hormones) after thyroid cancer.

You can learn more about this great program, find the answers to past questions, and submit a question of your own by going here!

More about the Awkward Auntie program:

Dr. Anne Katz, also known as the Awkward Auntie, is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse who has written a couple of books about young adults and cancer – and all the things that happen to your body, relationships, and sex during and after treatment.  She will be answering any and all questions that you send to or that you submit in the form below. You don’t have to give your name or other identifying information – but it might be helpful for her to know how you identify yourself by gender, your age and what kind of cancer and treatment you had.

YOU CAN ASK HER ANYTHING…. Don’t hold back!  Your questions will be answered periodically and posted on our Awkward Auntie page.