May 24, 2023

Sex, Sex, and More Sex


Mark your calendars. Monday, June 8th, 9 PM, EST for the ‘Sex, Sex, and More Sex’ episode of the Stupid Cancer Show. We will have three experts on air focusing for an entire hour on cancer and sex!

I got a great email today from a blog reader who was writing me about some issues down there – mostly feeling like she is popping her cherry every time she has sex with her spouse. These down and dirty sex issues are real problems and we have few forums in which to talk about them and receive expert advice.

So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to request that you leave in the comment section of my blog questions you would like to have read on air. Remember that there is an anonymous option in my comment section, so nobody will ever know who you are and you have carte blache to ask whatever questions you like.

Be as graphic, real, and hardcore as you need to be. Sage Bolte is one of the experts. I interviewed her in my book Everything Changes and believe me – NOTHING is too graphic to discuss with this woman.

We all look forward to reading and hearing your questions!

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  1. Michelle Says:
    May 24th, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    THANK YOU for doing this show. This is something that no one wants to talk about. I know personally, all I was told was not to have sex because I could transmit the chemo to my husband. No one mentioned the dryness, the sores, the itching, the pain down there. No one told me how to handle being told I couldn’t be intimate for 6+ months. No one tells you these thing, and this is why we are here - to inform others.

    Questions - I don’t think I have any, yet. I’ll let you know. I think the most important thing to me is that you are talking about something that is so important, especially to young adult cancer patients.

  2. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 11:01 AM

    Michelle raised some really good topics in her comment. I will ask our panel to talk about them. Have others been told that they could not have sex because it would transmit the chemo to their partners?

  3. Deb Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 6:56 PM


    Your listeners of your June 8 show may be interested in a copy of The Women’s Sexual Health Foundation’s October Women’s Sexual Health Journal which focused on cancer and the impact on female sexuality.

    E-mail for a free copy.

    Congratulations on addressing this rarely discussed topic—Sex, Intimacy, and Cancer. More programs like this are needed.

  4. Garnet Says:
    May 27th, 2009 at 11:25 AM

    No doubt! What an important topic this is! I think the general non-cancer public may just assume that our only sexual-related problems in dealing with cancer are all related to our physical sexual identity: feeling unsexual as a result of losing a breast (or both) or another part of your anatomy due to cancer treatments, or even just feeling self conscious because we’re bald! But it just isn’t that easy, is it? It goes a lot deeper than that (no pun in-okay yes, the pun was intended there!).

    I’ve found that our oncologists don’t know squat about how cancer or chemo or radiation is going to treat our bodies let alone our sexuality! A couple years ago a friend of mine had late-stage breast cancer at the age of 24 (because she had no insurance- imagine that!). After almost two years of solid chemo and radiation treatment, double mastectomy and hormone therapy, she was finally in remission, thank goodness! When she asked her docs if she and her husband could now proceed in having a third child, all her docs told her the same thing: that she wouldn’t even be able to conceive a child, let alone carry it to term for 5-6 years post-treatments. She accepted this news with a sad and broken heart.
    Six months later she was pregnant and a few months after that, she gave birth to a happy, healthy, strong baby boy. And she is still in remission!

    So don’t always believe 100% what your doctors tell you. Be your own advocate. Research research research. Ask around. Beg people around you to confirm or deny such information. Regarding the possibility of passing chemo on to your sexual partner: I don’t think that’s true. Before I began chemo one of my questions to my doc was on that subject and she said there was nothing to be concerned with, that that would not happen. Of course I researched it on the internet and asked a few people I knew who had gone through chemo, all of which agreed with the doc.
    I’ve been in chemo for a year and a half now and have had some sex with my husband throughout. He has not once experienced any side effects of chemo. That’s just my experience though…yours may be different.

    Kairol, I look forward to this show and learning a lot!

    Deb, thank you so much for the information on that journal article. I’m very interested in receiving a copy to read so I’ll send an email ASAP to that address!

  5. Alison Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    I do have a question-I went through six weeks of radiation for rectal cancer. After that I went through six cycles of chemo. I am in menopause. Sex is extremely painful for me. Penetration is a nightmare. The only treatment suggested so far from my gyno is estrogen cream. This has not improved the pain that I have during intercourse. Is there anything else that can be done for me. I think the radiation had a bad effect on my vagina. Please help. I am happily married and would like to stay that way and I feel so guilty that I don’t enjoy sex anymore-more like I dread it.

  6. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    Alison, You are not alone! Many women have expressed this problem to me. I will ask your question on air and make sure that we have Sage and Sueann answer it. Thanks for the question. There are five more days until the show… keep the questions coming!

  7. Rhonda Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 5:14 AM

    AMEN sister! This topic is SERIOUSLY OVERDUE! I have been on chemo for 19 months and will stay on chemo for the rest of my life because of the type of cancer that I won in the cancer lotto.

    NO one told me that during the first three months of treatment when I was too tired to get up to go to the bathroom (but I did…) I should also be having sex periodically to keep the area useable. YES, useable. Seems chemo not only dries us out, but does a shrinking number on our junk. For us girls, the old saying ‘use it or lose it comes to mind.’ Even if you don’t feel like, you may want to do it for prevention sake.

    If I had been a guy, the docs would have naturally offered me the little blue pills because of course there are blood flow issues on chemo. “of course?” But since I was a girl (nice of them to notice) I had basically NO options.

    Now, it took me about six months to ‘notice the problem’ and let’s just say it was a NO GO AREA. I was shocked! Who stole my stuff? Where did it go? Golly gee what’s going on? The response of my doctors? “We don’t see that side effect in women.” Really? Well it’s kinda odd for the garage door to completely slam down on my stuff out of nowhere. And by the way I don’t “see the side effect” either. (ok I swore in my head when I said that…)

    Here’s what I have since found out. If your vital girly bits have shrunk up, you have to exercise them until they get back to near normal. Since full on sex is OUT OF THE QUESTION at first, the hospital will provide, and insurance pay for, a ‘set of dialators’ aka a baker’s dozen vibrators in a variety of cheery bold colors. Seriously, they looked like playschool. So I opted NO, I will get my own ‘toys’ in non glow in the dark colors.

    Then proceed to have non pleasant non sex for what feels like forever with a lot less ‘response’ than you can ever remember. It’s basically physical therapy with mood lighting. Yes, we can get someone else to help, but then there’s the inevitable desire to “achieve.”

    So a few weeks (ok months) later I was having full on sex and it didn’t feel like an 18 wheeler was pinning me to the ground. HOWEVER, the ‘response’ was limited. My stuff was now accessible, but the orgasms were mediocre and took FOREVER. At least my partner was good natured about the whole thing and he never said “what the …” ALSO, when I threw the white flag and gave up he didn’t ask… “was it me?” duh no.

    Regarding chemo and exposing your partner, it is true that you ‘share chemo’ if you don’t use condoms-especially if the guy is the one taking chemo. Women usually get microscopic tears during normal sex and if the guy leaves behind some chemo laden juice… well… girl gets extra special dose of chemo with sex.

    If the girl is getting the chemo, the guy is not as much at risk, but where there is bodily fluid… there is some chemo juice. However, depending on the chemo, the dose, the fluid, etc. it’s doubtful the non cancer partner will have ‘side effects’ or even notice. But still… who wants to share chemo?

    Well, this seems more like a diatribe than a question, but here’s the thought for the day:

    In the WHOLE WORLD, there is little or no resesarch being done on WOMEN and SEXUAL SIDE EFFECTS POST CANCER. And what research is being done it to tell us the problems exist (duh). Viagra for women didn’t work, so that’s it?

    I am grateful to be alive, but there is alive… and there is ALIVE. It seems the pharma companies are researching sexual issues for women, but NOT women with, or post, cancer.

    WHAT CAN WE DO TO GET MORE RESEARCH DONE ON THIS TOPIC???? We need more options than “grit your teeth” and “just do it and it will get better”.

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