Since so many chemotherapy agents can affect a patient’s sex drive and fertility, thinking about these issues prior to treatment is important. Talking to your partner and your doctor before treatment starts is the best option.
What to Ask
You should ask about the type of treatment you’ll receive and its affect on fertility. For treatment protocols that are known to cause infertility, there are many options.
For men, you can store your sperm in a sperm bank prior to treament. Store it before you receive any chemotherapy, radiation, or other harmful procedures.
For women, it’s possible to harvest eggs or take a sample of your ovarian tissue. Either of these may help restore fertility post-treatment. Your eggs can be implanted via in-vitro. The harvesting of ovarian tissue is a relatively new procedure, though, so you should talk with your doctor about it.
Always remember that infertility is not the end of the world, though it is an extremely difficult thing to cope with. Your partner should be understanding if you become infertile as a result of cancer treatments. There is more than one way to have a family, and you and your partner may want to consider in-vitro fertilization using donor eggs or sperm if necessary. Adoption is another rewarding and viable option.
What to Do
During treatment, you may feel fatigued and unwilling to have sex. If this is the case, try being intimate with your partner in other ways – cuddling and caressing are two great options. Allow your partner to be there for you and support you during treatment.
When you have the energy for sex, let your partner know. Unless your doctor instructed you not to, this act is perfectly healthy for cancer patients who are feeling in the mood.
Some patients are self-conscious because of hair loss. Do not let this inhibit you around your partner. Your partner will love you for who you are and for how strong you’re being during treatment, so your looks should not matter. Bald can be beautiful, too. If you aren’t feeling particularly sexy, try setting the mood. Have a romantic, candlelit dinner or let your partner give you a massage.
If infertility happens, your sex drive may diminish. When this happens, talk to your doctor about hormone therapies. These can help boost your desire post-treatment in some cases.
photo by Muramasa