Got A Question About Sex Or Intimacy After Young Adult Cancer?

Have you ever found yourself wanting to ask your doctor a more *cough* intimate question but then chicken out last minute?  Goodness gracious, I know I have.  Whether it was about an intimate moment going a different way than I’d planned or a sensitive area that just didn’t feel the way it used to before young adult cancer, sometimes it’s hard to work up the courage to ask.

Now you can anonymously ask your question to Dr. Anne Katz, our very own Awkward Auntie!  She’s 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 AwkwardAuntie@lacunaloft.org 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 here, on our Awkward Auntie page.

Send your questions to AwkwardAuntie@lacunaloft.org or submit them anonymously in the form below and watch this space for the answers.

(Lacuna Loft considers anyone diagnosed with cancer, at any stage of the experience, to be a survivor!)

*This Should Not Be Happening: Young Adults with Cancer

Awkward Auntie Question No. 11

woman at beach

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 tolerance for sex and/intimacy (never strong) has nearly disappeared. How do I recover this connection with my husband?  I don’t have cancer but have had a BSO in the past 6mos, am BRCA+, and have had ongoing elevated numbers. I am also on HRT. (Previvor)

Awkward Auntie: This is a common issue in part due to the loss of ovarian hormones that leads to early menopause that is way worse than ‘normal’ menopause. You have been through a LOT in the recent past along with the knowledge that you are at high risk due to your BRCA + status – libido is a head thing and stress and worry will often take away desire. You don’t mention if the hormone therapy you are taking is local or systemic….. is vulvo-vaginal dryness adding to your lack of interest.

When you say that your tolerance is low or non-existent, are you talking about pain with sexual touch or activity or loss of interest? These are two separate but connected issues. Talking to a sexuality counselor can also help – your partner is likely deeply affected by what you have been through.

One way to increase desire that has good results is the practice of mindfulness – there is a new book that has just been published that I highly recommend. Get a copy and read through it – no pills or potions, just using your head to help!

Better Sex through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire by Dr. Lori Brotto (Greystone Books)

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 AwkwardAuntie@lacunaloft.org 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.

Speaker Series Talk: Everything you wanted to know about sex and relationships after cancer

sex after cancer

A few months ago we launched our newest program here at Lacuna Loft, the Speaker Series!  Our 6th Speaker Series Talk is now live!  You can now watch Dr. Anne Katz talk about Everything you wanted to know about sex and relationships after cancer.

Dr. Katz is an expert in the field of sexual health and wellness after cancer and further specializes in young adults.  Her talk is a must see.  Plus, if you want to submit your own question about sex and relationships after young adult cancer, you can do so anonymously in our Awkward Auntie program.

In this open and honest conversation about sex and relationships, Dr. Anne Katz will share the advice she has given to many YAs during and after treatment for cancer. While YAs usually find their way with dating and new or altered relationships, they often need some support and guidance, or merely an open ear and heart to help them through a challenging time. In this event for Lacuna Loft, Dr Katz will talk about disclosing your cancer history to a new potential partner, how to deal with scars and missing body parts and anything else that YOU need to be answered.

Psst…want to submit a topic for a future Speaker Series?  You can do so here!

Awkward Auntie Question No. 10

woman on beach

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 AwkwardAuntie@lacunaloft.org 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.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex And Relationships After Cancer

sex after cancer

Everything you wanted to know about sex and relationships after cancer – Speaker Series!  Join our very own, Awkward Auntie, Dr. Anne Katz for a Speaker Series talk!  Submit questions today!!!

In this open and honest conversation about sex and relationships, Dr. Anne Katz will share the advice she has given to many young adult (YA) cancer survivors during and after treatment for cancer. While YAs usually find their way with dating and new or altered relationships, they often need some support and guidance, or merely an open ear and heart to help them through a challenging time. In this event for Lacuna Loft, Dr. Katz will talk about disclosing your cancer history to a new potential partner, how to deal with scars and missing body parts, and anything else that YOU need to be answered.

While this talk will not be live, you have the opportunity to submit questions!  Then, the recorded talk, featuring our very own Awkward Auntie, Dr. Anne Katz, will go live on Thursday, May 10!

Psst…want to submit a topic for a future Speaker Series?  You can do so here!