October is for ALL women

Fall may be the time for autumn colors of golden and brown leaves, but in October, we’ll turn pink as we celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a great time for you to check on your own breast health with a mammogram, and to remind your friends and family to do the same.

We talk a lot about #sexualhealthmatters, and that includes sex after a mastectomy. In fact, webmd.com reports that in a study, more than two-thirds of surveyed breast cancer survivors reported that they were still having sexual function problems months after diagnosis.

“Sexual problems are among the most common and least talked about side effects of breast cancer treatment,” study co-author Susan R. Davis, MD, of Victoria, Australia’s Monash University Medical School tells WebMD.

The problems are often two-fold, according to gynecologist and breast cancer survivor Melanie Bone. Body image issues after breast surgery and vaginal dryness related to medications were among the most frequently mentioned complaints. A good lubricant from Pure Romance can help with the dryness. The body image part, researchers say, is more difficult.

“From the moment the surgeon takes a knife to your breast — unless you have superhuman self-esteem — there is an impact on sexuality,” Dr. Bone says. Even women who have breast-sparing surgery may no longer enjoy having their breasts touched during sex because it reminds them of their cancer and treatment.

But for those with supportive partners, the return of a satisfying sexual relationship is more likely, according to an article on aarp.org. According to the article, Researchers at UCLA, USC and Georgetown surveyed 863 breast cancer survivors two years after treatment. Compared with a control group of cancer-free women, the participants’ libido, erotic responsiveness, orgasms and sexual satisfaction were pretty much the same. In other words, breast cancer survivors recover not just physically but sexually within about two years

In another survey of 139 married breast-cancer survivors 20 months after diagnosis, UCLA researchers found that sexual activity and satisfaction hinge on a couple’s ability to support each other through the experience.

As we mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a perfect time to make sure you and your friends have had that annual mammogram, and to support those who are undergoing treatment or are now survivors.

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