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Sexuality During Chemotherapy


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© American Cancer Society 2010

Chemo can damage the ovaries and reduce the amount of hormones they produce. As a result, a woman may have these side effects:

  • Your menstrual periods may become irregular or stop completely during treatment.
  • You may have menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes and itching, burning, or dryness of vaginal tissues. These tissue changes can make intercourse uncomfortable, but the symptoms often can be relieved by using a water-based vaginal lubricant.
  • You may be more likely to get vaginal infections. To help prevent infection, avoid oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, always use a condom for sexual intercourse, wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a ventilated cotton lining, and don't wear tight slacks or shorts. Your doctor also may prescribe a vaginal cream or suppository to reduce the chances of infection. If you do get an infection, it should be treated right away.
  • You may become Infertile (unable to become pregnant). Whether this happens and how long it lasts depends on many factors, including the type of drug, the doses given, and your age. It is important to discuss this possibility BEFORE you start treatment.

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