Effects on your sex life


Treatment for some cancers can affect your sex life. Many of these effects can be prevented or treated.

  • Lack of interest or loss of desire for sex. Low libido is common during cancer treatment. Sometimes it can be brought on by anxiety and worry about your diagnosis rather than the treatment. Libido usually returns after treatment is over.
  • Temporary pain. After some types of surgery you may have to wait several weeks before having sex again. In the meantime, kissing, caressing and touching can also be pleasurable.


  • If fatigue is a problem, try different times of the day to be intimate.
  • If you are experiencing low libido, talk to your partner about how you are feeling. They need to know when you feel ready for sex and ways to help you get in the mood.
  • Although sexual intercourse may not always be possible, closeness and sharing are vital to a healthy relationship. Explore other ways of sharing intimacy and showing affection for each other such as touching, holding, hugging and massaging.
  • Try different sexual positions if your usual ones are uncomfortable. Use cushions or pillows to support your weight.
  • Suggest a quick lovemaking session rather than a long session.
  • If you have a stoma, the Cancer Council NSW booklet Sexuality for People with a Stoma has more information. For a copy call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.