Right, I'm just going to put this out there - how has having cancer affected your relationship? How do you feel about sex after your op/treatment? I know this can be a very private thing, but I also am 99% certain that I am not unusual in my feelings about it, and I'm thinking that maybe if I raise it here it might open up a discussion about it. There are so many difficult things that get discussed on this forum, and it's so great that people can be open here and able to get support, so I thought that if anyone else is dealing with this issue as well, it would be a shame not to be able to get the same kind of support - just another part of the roller coaster that is cancer I reckon!!
Ok, so. I had a radical hysterectomy on 1st November. Obviously in the first few weeks I felt awful because of general post-op stuff, so sex was the last thing on my mind! A difficult feeling I had in those first few weeks though was that I felt that I had been mutilated. I found the idea of what had been done to me in an operating theatre very distressing and some of my feelings were not dissimilar to a feeling of violation, even though what had been done was in order to save my life. It was a real shock to me that I felt like this - I really hadn't anticipated that.
Now, four months after my op, my 'new' body still feels strange to me. I had a check-up with my consultant a few weeks ago and that made me think that in some way, I am just totally fed up of being messed about with and that I want to be left alone - I'd quite like my body to myself for a while.
More specifically though, I think I am finding it difficult to think about my gynaecology in any sort of pleasureable way. Of course, because of the surgery I've had, my vagina is shorter than it was, and is sewn up at the top, and I find it hard to think of it now as anything other than a superficial vault that is shut off from the rest of my body. As odd as it may sound, I think I find it hard to see the point of my vagina anymore! I don't really understand what it's for, now. Cancer has also knocked my confidence and I feel very far away from being an attractive, sexy woman. I have been left with a short, sewn up vagina which has since developed a prolapse, a cross bowel and adhesions which cause pain - I am 39 but I feel old, actually.
I love my husband and I want to be with him, but I am also aware that I am just not ready yet. On the one hand, I feel that if I'm just not ready, I'm just not ready (and this is exactly what he says, as well) but on the other hand, this is upsetting in itself because I also can't imagine when I will be - I can't imagine ever being able to feel ok enough about my 'new' body to be able to share it. I'll be honest, we have tried a couple of times, but on both occasions I burst into tears (attractive!!) and on the second occasion I was aware that I just couldn't feel very much and I had to put a stop to it because it was just too upsetting. I can't imagine sex ever being anything other than a cruel reminder of eveything I've lost.
I'd be really interested to hear about other people's experiences with this issue.
Love, Annabel. x