Sex and cancer

This information is about how cancer and cancer treatments can affect your sex life. We hope it answers some of your questions and helps you to rebuild your confidence.

This information is intended to be a general resource for people of all genders and sexual orientations. For more specific information about sex for men and women, see the list of recommended readings

What is sexuality?

Sexuality means different things to different people. It’s about who you are, how you see yourself, and how you connect with others. It’s much more than sexual intercourse. There are many ways you can be sexual and intimate, and when you are diagnosed with cancer it may be helpful to explore other options such as masturbation – either alone or with a partner.

Even if you’re not ready for sex, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being close. Be creative and take opportunities to express your sexuality in new ways. Kissing, touching (eg massage) and being naked with your partner can be satisfying. You may find it more relaxing if you are both clear about how far you are expecting to go.

“Sex is what we do, sexuality is about who we are and intimacy is about sharing the secret corners of ourselves.” – Grits (1990); Don Edgar (1997)