Sex life during chemo

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Hi all.  I realise this may not be the priority, but I am wondering if anyone can share any experiences of maintaining a healthy sex life during chemo?

I am due to start chemo treatment in three weeks, and am keen to be as 'normal' as possible and not let this thing define me or my relationship.

My regime as far as I know is:

12 x weekly taxol with carboplatin added each 3 weeks
3 x 3 weekly FEC

Thanks and sorry if this is inappropriate! 

  • Hi Darbydoo and welcome to the forum. It is not in any way inappropriate if it is something that is worrying you and it sounds like it is.

    I don't have any words of wisdom that I can add  to help any but I imagine that everyone will deal with this area of their lives differently as chemo can leave you feeling wiped out,  so whilst the mind may be willing, the actual act may be less appealing when you are not feeling well if that makes sense. I'm sure that if you have a chat with your partner they will understand and be patient re this aspect of the relationship.

    I cna appreciate what you are saying about this not defining you and it doesn't need to but there will be some effects on your body that will leave you feeling different so I'm just putting that out there so that they don't come as a shock or surprise for you. xxx


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  • Hi darbydoo I felt the same about my relationship and chemo, I still wanted things as normal as possible. I finished chemo 3 weeks ago, was on 3 FEC and 3 doxetaxal. Each chemo session was different and I felt ill/sore for about 5-7 days after each session but I was still able to have sex every couple of weeks. 

    However fatique and breathlessness was a nighmare for me so i didn't do any of the work, I tried but failed so many times.

    Wishing you all the luck with your chemo Heart

  • Hello! 

    Good luck with the chemo, sending all the positive vibes your way! 

    This was also one of my worries too upon entering treatment - I’m 28 and was 2 months into a new relationship when I started chemo , open and honest communication with your partner about your feelings is most important, your body is about to enter a metaphorical battlefield so be kind to yourself and indulge in lots of self care.  

    Little things for me really mattered in maintaining a positive self image and therefore a comfortability and confidence in my appearance was important. I regularly bought myself pretty new sets of underwear that made me feel good (and that felt nice, no scratchy fabrics!), I lathered myself in really gorgeous moisturisers & creams to keep my skin in tip top condition (Egyptian Magic Cream - highly recommend!) I also had a very open conversation with my partner about using gentle & relaxing sex toys in the bedroom that we’d both enjoy and look forward to using. 
    I would advise speaking to your oncologist about sex directly after chemo (I know everyone’s drugs are different) I was told not to have unprotected sex for a few days afterward just to ensure that any bodily fluid transfer (sorry!) didn’t mean he ended up with my chemo in his system, sorry to be so graphic! 

    One last little bit from me - invest in a good lubricant that’s gentle on your skin, I’ve found that to be very helpful. 



  • Thanks EJ that’s really helpful. Did you manage ok to feel like yourself through this? 

  • My libido definitely took a nose dive, this was more to do with the fact that I was having prostap injections though and less to do with the chemo. 

    I did feel relatively like my old self through it, I think a huge part of that was to do with a commitment I made to myself not to give up or remove aspects of my pre-cancer life. I maintained a level of normality through the other areas in my life. 

    This cancer does not and will not define you or your relationship, you’re bigger than it. 
    Sending you lots of positive vibes. X 

  • Thank you xx

    im considering having zoladex injections which are likely to have a similar impact. But hopefully that will only be temporary!

  • We tried to have a normal sex life. We had a go after the first cycle but it just felt weird - chemo can really affect your reproductive system and my whole area down there was just off and didn't feel the same to either of us,

    We also both seriously lost our libido - neither of us found it sexy that I was being pumped full of poison. I worked full time so had little energy for anything else either.

    We had an open and honest conversation about it and agreed not to worry about sex during treatment. We've been with each other forever so no issues with feeling loved etc. 

    We actually ended up not having sex for about 6 months, which I would never have believed at the beginning. Chemo made everything feel horrible like I said but I was also put on zoladex injections so went through a sudden menopause. That, combined with the effects of chemo, made everything atrophy for quite some time so I don't think I could have had sex even if we'd wanted to! The hot flushes were also intense at first and I couldn't imagine having sex with that going on. I felt reall rough on docetaxel so it wasn't in either of our heads,

    I had chemo first, then operation, then radiotherapy. The operation came around quickly and again, neither of us were in the mood after chemo and then the worry of the operation, Then I had to heal from the op. and then it was radiation when everything was red and rubbish (though I had very minor skin issues). We both wanted me to fully recover from that.

    In the end, we just went with the flow and didn't worry about it. We both agreed that sex was not a priority and that it would come back. Pleased to say it has come back and is completely normal again (though have to use Yes lubricant these days!), so I'm glad we didn't force it when neither of us felt like it.

    You might feel completely fine though and be completely into it, and that's also great!