National Cancer Control Programme publishes a Sexual Wellbeing Guide for women

The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) has launched a new guide for women who have completed treatment for breast cancer or pelvic cancer, which deals with questions women may have about their sexuality or sexual health following their treatment. Titled “Sexual wellbeing after breast or pelvic cancer treatment – A Guide for Women”, this booklet was designed by expert healthcare professionals.

Having cancer may affect your relationships with your family, friends and colleagues, and it is natural to need some time to adjust. You may experience emotional and physical changes during and after cancer treatment which may cause sexual problems – such as body image, mood, energy levels and sexual desire. But while cancer treatment may affect your sexuality, your sex life doesn’t have to end. This guide gives details of treatments that may help to improve sexual wellbeing and encourages women to be their own strongest resource. It includes advice on how to talk to your partner about your sexual wellbeing, how to create physical and emotional intimacy, and what to do if you are not in a sexual relationship but would like to be.

This guide is a companion to the previously published “Information for men on sexual wellbeing after pelvic cancer treatment, which has been widely used by men to understand the sexual changes caused by cancer treatment.

As part of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026, the NCCP are continually working on projects such as these to improve the experience and care for cancer survivors. With cancer survivorship numbers increasing significantly, optimising peoples’ quality of life is a particular focus. The goal for many cancer survivors will be to return to as normal a life as possible. A key objective of survivorship care is to empower patients to achieve their best possible health outcomes while living with and beyond a diagnosis of cancer.

Louise Mullen is NCCP National Programme Manager for Cancer Survivorship:

“Patients, healthcare professionals and advocacy groups will tell you time and time again that patients feel adrift and as if they have ‘fallen off a cliff’ after their active treatment for cancer is complete. Patients need support at this time to regain a sense of control over their lives, rebuild their sense of health and wellbeing and have expert advice, assessment and treatment for any consequences of treatment which may be physical, psychological and or social.”

For more information about the National Cancer Control Programme please visit www.hse.ie/cancer.