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Awkward Auntie Question No. 15

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 needed the answer?  Now you can ask those questions and get answers from Dr. Anne Katz, the Awkward Auntie!

Question:  Since 33 months ago when I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer (with brain mets) I’ve lost all feelings of sexual desire. I wasn’t in a physical relationship, but I was on/off talking with several people. Then it was like the lights went out in the area of sexual needs/wants. Is this something I can work on to change? How do I begin this process?  A side thought: I had started the process of becoming a single parent. The process didn’t work and I started doubting myself if I could really be a parent on my own even if I have always dreamed about raising multiple children and for the most part without a partner. Then I ran out of time and was diagnosed with cancer. I have brought up this topic multiple times with the oncologist. She explained to me it’s too late and medically I cannot pursue pregnancy. She believes I will not be around long enough to go through adoption. So all of this is to say that I may have connected the not being able to pursue becoming a mother with no longer being interested in sex.

Awkward Auntie:  You have a lot going on and I suspect that you are on continuous treatment for your primary cancer and the metastases. All of these can cause a loss of desire, coupled with the very real challenges you are facing at such a young age. And of course, you are mourning the loss of potentially parenting a child – this is a LOT to deal with and it’s not surprising that you have lost sexual desire. BUT that should not stop you from forming new relationships, even if they don’t involve sex (at least initially). You do not need to feel desire to talk to prospective partners and for some women, once they are attracted to someone and it is mutual, they regain desire.

The situation you describe sounds very challenging. Unfortunately, many adoption agencies won’t consider someone with a history of cancer even if they have no evidence of disease. Your loss of desire may as you say, have a connection to the loss of fertility or hope for a child.

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.