I completely understand what you're saying and actually, this is a really common problem/issue after treatment for any kind of cancer, not just cervical cancer, and one that people who haven't had cancer find difficult to understand I think. Like you say, you've had all kinds of things happen to your body and, apart from the fact that you probably would like to keep your body to yourself for a while after things like that have happened, there is also the point that your gynaecology probably means something different to you now. I did start a thread on this subject in the 'relationships' section of the forum. If you want to go and read that, you'll see from what I said and from the replies that you are definitely not on your own!
I'll be honest with you - this is an issue that I am really struggling with. I love my husband very much and he is the most patient, understanding and gentle man you could ever meet, but still I am very anxious about sex. It just isn't like it used to be and, even though I know the challenge is probably to make it good in a different way, I can't help but feel sad that it will probably never be like that again, because that's not something that I chose to lose. And that's the important bit as well - it is a loss, and wherever there's a loss, there is the need to grieve, otherwise we'll always just be 'stuck' in a place of anxiety and mourning over these kinds of issues. You need to allow yourself to feel upset about it - it's completely reasonable to be upset about it. Obviously I don't know you and I don't know your husband but I would suggest the best thing is to just be really open with him about your feelings/anxieties over sex and explain that this has nothing to do with anything he is or isn't doing, and that it's to do with what's happened to you. You say it's your 'fault' - try and be a bit kinder to yourself than that - things become overly simplistic when we place judgement on ourselves and it tends to rather unfair; things are usually more complicated than that and we deserve a bit of kindness and understanding. And perhaps as far as sex is concerned, it may be that you could benefit from some couples counselling - it might be helpful generally for both of you in terms of your sex life, but also it might be a way of helping your husband to understand more what this is like for you.
So that you know you're not alone, I'm going to tell you some of the specific issues I struggle with, and I'm going to be blunt and straightforward, so look away now if you're easily embarrassed!
1. It hurts. There's just no getting around this - it does not matter how relaxed I am, how many glasses of wine I've had, how much bloody lubrication I've plonked on myself, anything other than very careful, very tentative, very slow sex is uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. It just doesn't feel the way it used to feel - sometimes I can't really 'feel' anything except the fact that it's uncomfortable. Other times I can feel that there is potential, if you see what I mean, but it hurts and that pain gets in the way. At my six month check up I talked to my consultant about it. He examined me when he took my vault smear etc.. and concluded that 'It might just be the way it is now.' I must admit, I was hoping for something slightly more optimistic than that, but there we are, time will tell.
2. I feel like an old lady. I'm not a prude, and I'm pretty open minded, so it's not like lubrication, 'accessories' and creative use of food stuff are new to me, but it's different now - the fact that I can't have sex unless we use lubrication makes me feel like an old lady and doesn't exactly make for spontaneous wild abandon.
3. I'm too small. There is no way to solve this one, the fact of the matter is that my vagina is shorter than the length of my husband's penis. I can feel it when he reaches the 'top' and it's a very strange feeling which, to be honest, I'm not that keen on! Every time this happens, it also reminds me that my vagina is now closed off from the rest of my body, and that really upsets me.
4. I feel disconnected from my body. I know my body really well, and after years together, I knew exactly how to make sex brilliant for both of us. Now I feel like I've got a different body and I don't know how anything works - or even IF it works - and it's like we don't fit together in the same way that we used to. I can't imagine being in a place mentally where I really look forward to sex and my body responds in the way it used to.
5. Orgasm is upsetting. The first time I had an orgasm after my surgery, I was euphoric because of the relief I felt that I could still have one at all. However, the fact of the matter is that compared to what my orgasms used to be like, it's a bit of a pale imitation, really. It takes bloody ages to get there and because it's not as powerful as it used to be, by the time I get there I wonder if it was worth all the effort! I also get very upset about ejaculation as well, because whereas before, whatever my body didn't retain of my husband's ejaculation, would gradually trickle out, now it is more like my body is expelling it! I find it upsetting in the first place that my body can't retain any part of him because my vagina is now shut off from the rest of my body, but I wasn't really prepared for the difference in feeling that I get when the fluid leaves my body. Whereas before it was a little trickle, now it's WHOOSH! Out it goes, like there's some kind of force behind it. I find this really upsetting.
So, there you are. I know I've been very blunt about some things and I hope it's not too much, but the way I look at it is that we're all adults here and this is a very real issue post-cancer and my view is that it doesn't get talked about enough. It's obvious that it doesn't because otherwise people wouldn't think they were the only ones having problems with it. My feeling is that it's something that needs to be dealt with in an honest and loving way between a couple, but that both parties need to accept that it's not going to be sorted out overnight - what's happened to your body is a massive massive thing and is very distressing - rather than trying to make it how it used to be, I think we need to accept that it will take time and a lot of trial and error to find new ways to make it intimate and pleasureable in different ways.
I hope this helps.
Love, Annabel. x