Cancer treatments and gynaecologic 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 oestrogen 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: 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.
Gynaecologic surgeries: Gynaecologic surgeries, including removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes (cancer or BRCA mutation) will result in a significant drop in oestrogen levels, causing the lining of the vagina to become thinner, dryer, and less elastic.
Surgery to treat ovarian cancer may also include removal of the fallopian tubes and uterus (hysterectomy), which can shorten the vagina and cause some scarring at the top of the vagina. This can sometimes make intercourse painful.
Vaginal scar tissue can form following other common surgeries including fibroids or an episiotomy. Vaginal scarring results in reduced elasticity at the entrance 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.
Intimate training can help recovery from pelvic prolapse open surgery, by gently massaging vaginal scar tissue as part of healing, starting 3 - 6 weeks after the operation.
Intimate training also helps integrate pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises-squeezing, holding and relaxing pelvic muscles - which tighten and strengthen pelvic muscles as part of routine postoperative sexual health self-care.