Sexual Side Effects

Don't be surprised during your treatment if you are not as interested in sex as you usually are. This is understandable given the emotional and physical stresses you are facing. Treatment side effects such as nausea, fatigue and pain, and changes in your body and appearance (e.g. hair and weight loss) also can reduce your libido.

Although you may not be interested in sex and feel tempted to withdraw, it is important that you and your partner communicate, address each other's fears and stay connected. Be patient with yourself, only do what you are comfortable with and trust that in time, as you feel better, you will feel sexual again.

Action Steps

  • Communicate - Talk to your partner about your needs and limits and address each other's fears.
  • Explore Non-Sexual Intimacy - Hugging, cuddling, kissing and holding hands can be a satisfying addition or alternative to sex.
  • Rest and Plan - Rest before and after sexual activity and plan sexual activity during times when you think you have the most energy.
  • Use Lubricants - Hormonal changes can result in your vagina being drier than usual. Water-soluble lubricants can help.
  • Talk to Someone - In some cases, it's helpful for couples to speak to a counselor or therapist to help deal with emotional issues and sexual problems associated with your cancer treatment and recovery.

For more in-depth information on the issue of Sexuality please request the NOCC booklet, Ovarian Cancer Sexuality & Intimacy, by calling 1-888-OVARIAN or by sending an e-mail to This booklet contains information for women with ovarian cancer dealing with long-term side effects to their reproductive health. Common problems include menopause symptoms, sexual problems and infertility.

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