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Sex After Cancer

Preserving Sexual Life and Feeling for Cancer Patients

WHAT OPTIONS ARE THERE FOR THOSE IN TREATMENT (OR WHO HAVE RECENTLY COMPLETED IT) TO BETTER PRESERVE THEIR SEXUAL LIFE AND FEELING?

Some men, namely those with higher testosterone levels pre-treatment, tend to value their sexual expression more than men with lower testosterone levels, researchers have found. And so, as survivors, they may opt for less aggressive therapies, even at the risk that a cure is not as sure a bet.

New "nerve-sparing" surgeries for hysterectomies, prostate cancers, and colorectal cancers are available, though not always possible depending on one's condition. Nerve-mapping technology can help guide surgeons around sensation-carrying nerves that link the pelvic area, or regions related to orgasm, to the brain.

While nipple-sparing mastectomies do not preserve sensation in ways many survivors wish, the surgeries can have a tremendous influence on a woman's later body image. "And body image can be related directly to sexual function," says Sharon Bober, Ph.D., director of the sexual health program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

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