Cancer treatments and gynecologic surgery can cause vaginal changes that make sex painful. Intimate training self care can help you recover your sexual wellness and find a satisfying new normal.
Breast cancer hormonal therapy: Hormone therapy is a treatment that stops the effect of oestrogen on breast cancer cells. The most common hormone therapy drugs used to treat breast cancer are: selective oestrogen receptor modulators (Tamoxifen and others), aromatase inhibitors (Letrozole, Anastrozole, Exemestane) and hormone production suppressors Goserelin (Zoladex), Leuprorelin (Prostap), Fulvestrant (Faslodex) among others. These drugs dramatically lower estrogen levels in vaginal tissue causing dryness, loss of elasticity, shortening and narrowing of the vagina. These side effects can cause vaginal discomfort, painful sex and pH imbalance.
Radiotherapy vaginal adhesions (cervical/anal cancer): After cancer radiation treatments to the pelvic area (cervical cancer, anal cancer) scar tissue begins to form in the vagina and the tissue becomes less elastic and dry. There may be shortening or narrowing of the vagina and decreased blood flow to the area. Scarring of the vaginal tissue results in adhesions, or areas where scar tissue forms. This can make vaginal exams difficult and sex painful.
Gynecologic surgeries: Gynecologic surgeries for ovarian cancer, uterine cancer or BRCA preventive surgery, will result in a significant drop in estrogen levels, causing the lining of the vagina to become thinner, dryer, and less elastic. Vaginal shortening and scar tissue can form following a hysterectomy and other common vaginal surgeries including fibroids or an episiotomy. Vaginal scarring results in reduced elasticity at the vaginal opening and inside the vaginal canal, contributing to pelvic pain and painful sex.
Recovery from pelvic prolapse surgery: Pelvic prolapse surgery is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which the pelvic organs have dropped out of their normal positions, due to weakened, stretched or damaged support tissues. Vaginal scar tissue can form after vaginal prolapse surgery causing painful sex.