Cancer treatments and gynecologic surgery lead to changes in vaginal health that cause vaginal atrophy and pain during sex in up to 75% of women in recovery.
Intimate wellness is a central part of a woman's health, during and especially after cancer treatments, that significantly impact quality of life.
Intimate training self-care can help you regain vaginal health and sexual wellness for a satisfying new normal after cancer.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can damage the ovaries and reduce estrogen production, either temporarily, or permanently (induced menopause), leading to vaginal dryness, atrophy and pain. In addition to interrupting normal hormone production, some chemotherapy drugs also decrease blood flow to your vaginal tissue. When healthy tissue doesn’t receive adequate blood flow, dryness can be an unfortunate side effect.
Breast cancer hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy for breast cancer include medications that suppress hormone production and receptors for estrogen (SERM's) and progesterone. Hormonal therapies also dramatically reduce estrogen levels in vaginal tissue causing dryness, loss of elasticity, shortening and narrowing of the vagina and pH imbalance. Vaginal atrophy affects >50 % of women after breast cancer upending sex life.
Pelvic Radiotherapy: Pelvic Radiation therapy (RT) is commonly used to treat cervical, vaginal, anorectal and pelvic cancers. Pelvic radiotherapy can lead to vaginal adhesions, the shortening and narrowing of the vagina (stenosis), making intercourse excruciating, if not impossible. These vaginal changes, combined with induced menopause, can cause long‐term sexual dysfunction, as well as compromising follow‐up vaginal examinations.
Gynecologic surgeries: Gynecologic surgeries for ovarian cancer (or BRCA preventive surgery) and uterine cancer, among others, will result in a significant drop in estrogen levels (induced menopause) and vaginal atrophy, causing the lining of the vagina to become drier, thinner, less elastic and irritated.
Surgery, like a hysterectomy or mastectomy, can also rob women of sensations integral to sexual arousal and orgasm. Sadness, stress and body image issues can snuff out any sense of sexual desire.