Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Women, Cancer and Sexual Pain

When I was growing up my mother loved Ann Landers and Dear Abby. She read them and I learned to read them too. Both writers offered good advice and a picture too of just how dysfunctional families could be. Tolstoy was right.

As a young woman I had a strong reaction to the letters from women of a certain age who wrote to say, “Why doesn’t my husband leave me alone?” They would describe how the man in their life badgered them for sex and they hated it. “Why can’t we just cuddle?” And I would think, “I never want to be one of those women.”

Now that I am woman of a certain age I am more sympathetic but I still don’t want to be “one of those women”. I like sex. But, something that we don't talk about is sexual pain. I wonder now how many of Ann Landers correspondents really meant it when they said that it was a pain to keep having sex?

In today’s New York Times the wonderful Jane Brody writes about women and sexual pain and specifically relates it to cancer treatment and treatment side effects. I thought, “Yes, this is for the Love in the Time of Cancer folks, and it’s also for most women I know –including those who are not dealing with cancer. Chemotherapy wreaks havoc with women’s hormones, as does positive cancer treatments and so do aging, perio-menopause and menopause and post-menopause.

Dryness, tears, pain, no elasticity—and who knew that your vagina could get shorter? All this for women with and without cancer.

But the point Brody makes—the reason I stated writing this blog --is that so few oncologists and medical folks talk to patients and couples about sex, sexual issues and sexual side effects. So thank you Jane Brody!

The article (click below for the link) gives suggestions, recommendations, remedies and references. Hooray!

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