Let’s face it, the fear of having a mastectomy is more than just worrying about cancer. With almost any other type of cancer diagnosis people don’t automatically worry about how it will affect their sex life. Yet, most woman’s doctors, partners, and even friends, are apt to add the topic of the breast cancer patient’s sexual relationship. How can any woman make the right choice for her body when society says we must have breasts to be sexual beings? That’s a lot to put on someone’s plate who is facing cancer!
That being said, intimacy after breast cancer can be difficult to navigate. That’s because every couple’s sexual relationship is unique and built upon many factors. The amount of years spent together, your sexual relationship before cancer, whether you’ve had children together (or brought children into the mix from a previous relationship), stress of finances, your relationship in general, and so much more, all play a role when it comes to intimacy with your partner.
It Takes Two to Tango
First things first. As you know, I can only speak to your from you own experience. (I wouldn’t dare to make the assumption that every relationship is like mine. That would be doing an injustice to everyone who comes across this article.)
For me, intimacy with my partner is a very important part of my relationship. If you are reading this, chances are, it’s also important to you. Trying to figure it out alone can certainly leave you feeling confused, discouraged, and worried things will never be the same. But, there is good news. Your sexual relationship doesn’t have to change…exactly. It just needs to be “modified” because your body has been altered.
Then again, maybe for you, it’s actually time for a change. If your sex life wasn’t all that great before, there can be hope. Either way, here are 3 tips to finding more intimacy with your partner after mastectomy.
#1 Give Them Something to Talk About
While some couples find it easy to talk about sex, others struggle with it. And some of us have never openly talked to our partners about sex. For those of us who do struggle or have never talked about sex with our partners, it can be hard to broach the subject, especially if you have been together for some time. Please allow me to encourage you to discuss it anyway.
Why? Because, no matter how easy or difficult your past conversations about sex have been, your partner will probably now have many concerns that he or she feels scared or even unable to talk with you about.
If they have ever remotely considered how the removal of your breast will affect them sexually, they may experience extreme guilt, anger, worry, and have a lot of other feelings that will be hard to express to you. The concern for your wellbeing alongside the discomfort of their own emotions is a hard place to be.
#2 Time to get Jiggy with….YOUR BODY!
“This is How” is one of my favorite books written by my all time favorite author, Augusten Burroughs. One of my favorite chapter is titled “How to be Fat.” I bought this book when it came out in 2012 and I recently came to realize I had consumed the information and made it so.
How? Well, Burroughs describes how the sexiest woman he ever saw…..was… FAT! He noticed (as she walked alongside a swimming pool no less) the confident sensual way that she presented her body, the way she moved and held herself, that commanded everyone around her take notice. For me, just the decision to feel sexy has made me sexy.
How You Look vs. How You Feel
If you happen to do a google search of “What makes a woman sexy” you (like me) will be surprised by the results. I clicked on so many different articles looking for any descriptive of a woman’s body type. I came up empty handed. Not one of those articles mentioned body type. However, what every single article mentioned was confidence.
What does this have to do with you? Feeling sexy and sensual, feeling confident in your body, is all about how you feel about yourself, not about what you look like. So, go girl and get your sexy on!
#3 Light the Candles and Get in the Mood
“I’m not in the mood.”
“I can’t be bothered.”
Look, we’ve all been there. We’ve all had nights when we just can’t conjure up our inner Barry White groove. I get it. We all do!
But, for all intents and purposes of healing not only your body, but also healing your mind, I encourage you to put away those thoughts. And though what I’m about to say may be a bit controversial, I’ve just got to say it:
Like every other aspect of relationships… Sex sometimes is work.
Sometimes, we’re just not in the mood. Sometimes we’re tired. Sometimes we feel irritable. But sex is the physical manifestation of love. And love doesn’t take the day off. So unless there’s a strikingly powerful reason, we owe it to ourselves, and our partners, to give it our all (even when can’t be bothered). If I didn’t do this….My poor hubby might never get to get jiggy with me again! And the same goes for you and your partner.
The Best Payoff
Great news! Evidence shows that just the act of getting frisky with your partner often stimulates a response in yourself. What does that mean? It means that when you start getting physical with your partner, even if your not in the mood, your own body is likely to respond by getting turned on!
Try stepping out of your comfort zone. I encourage you to initiate sex after mastectomy because your partner may be scared of hurting you. It may be clumsy. It may be scary. And it will most likely be awkward. But it will be worth the work. Just remember, it probably won’t happen unless you allow your partner to know that you are ready.
A Few Final Thoughts and Suggestions
Maybe you have been in a relationship for some time and before your mastectomy things were “fizzling out” between the sheets. If so, let’s make this the changing point in your relationship. Let’s kick-start some action in the bedroom! Anything can be a catalyst for change. Find a book on how to relight that fire, read it from cover to cover, and make it happen. Your body will thank you.
If You Haven’t Had Your Surgery Yet
If you haven’t had your mastectomy yet and you found this article take all of this in….including my little secret:
I feel (therefore I am) sexier AFTER MY MASTECTOMY.
But don’t think that it’s just me, because I am not the only person this has happened to. I have talked with numerous women, a lot of them who have had both breasts removed and now live without reconstruction, and they have told me the same thing. They too feel like sex is better after their surgery. How can this be?
When you experience something that could have killed you, you realize how short life is. Simply put, being ALIVE feels pretty damn sexy!
Plus, sex is one of the most pleasurable experiences our body can give us. It’s important to remember that orgasms are vital to your health because they relieve stress and release endorphins that can REDUCE PAIN. Simply put, sex can be healing.
Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks
It’s never too late to do something different. The other day I was taking photos for Instagram to highlighting my new necklace (which happened to be super sexy). Thinking of ways I could take the photo without having to cover my remaining breast I came up with the brilliant idea to cover myself in glitter…
After I was finished, I tried to remove the glitter….but it wouldn’t come off!
Instead it spread! I’m talking EVERWHERE. My body was a glittery mess! This was highly amusing to my husband. He actually thought it was hysterical. Before going to bed that night I thought, Man, that was not the brightest idea. However, by the morning ….my glitter experience had indeed turned out to be brilliant!
Let’s just say – my hubby went to work with a smile and lots of sparkle!