sex and chemo

How do you balance sex and chemo ?

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    Cancer and cancer treatment can affect many areas of your sexual health and wellbeing. It may cause changes that are: 

    • physical – you may have side effects or symptoms that change how your body works or looks
    • emotional – you may be dealing with stress, worry or other difficult feelings
    • practical – your usual routines or roles may change


    So balancing sex and chemotherapy is individual to you. There is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on how you are feeling on a day to day basis. Many people continue with their sex lives as normal during chemotherapy.


    You may find it useful to have a read of this information on sex and cancer as well as  sex, sexuality and cancer.


    Certain chemotherapy and immunotherapy medications can be found in your bodily fluids (such as vaginal fluids, semen, and saliva). How much and for how long it stays in your body depends on you and your treatment. While studies show that some medications can be absorbed by other people if they come in contact with your bodily fluids, we don’t know whether or not this could be harmful to your partner. The recommendation is that you should use condoms or another method of barrier protection for at least 7-10 days after chemotherapy or immunotherapy. You may also find  more detailed information about sex during cancer treatment helpful. 

    Cancer cannot be passed on to your partner and sex will not make the cancer worse.  

    Your cancer nurse or doctor will be able to give you more specific advice about this and what contraception may be suitable for you if needed. You can also speak to your GP or practice nurse. 

     Hopefully you find this information useful. 


    Take care


    Paula H, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist 

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email. 

    Ref/ JL/ PH