Sexuality and relationships

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Sexuality is about the feelings, attractions and interactions you have towards or with other people and, more importantly, how you feel about yourself as a sexual being. There are lots different ways you feel and express your sexuality and it is unique to you at any given time.  Not only does your past and present influence your sexual identity, but also your future hopes and aspirations. 

There are lots of things that go towards how you develop a sexual identity; these include your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, values, roles, cultural/religious/societal influences, desires and fantasies. What it means to be a woman will be different for each of you.Your internal body image and how you portray yourself to the outside world will be unique, as will who you are attracted to, including your thoughts and feelings about being sexual (or not) either with yourself or others.  

A cancer diagnosis can impact on any part of your sexual identity. It can alter your body image, affect the way you interact with others sexually, affect intimate relationships, challenge future hopes, such as becoming mother. Although for many of you cancer will have a negative impact on your sexuality, this is not always the case and for some of you it will have positive effects. Your relationships may improve and/or you may learn how to feel more confident in yourself.

If you are struggling, the important thing is to let others know how you feel, and to ask for help and support from those around you. 

If you’re currently in a relationship

You may be concerned about how to regain your sex life and you may be unhappy about the way things have changed. Many women who have been through treatment for cervical cancer are concerned about restarting sex. When and how you restart having sex is your choice and you should do what feels right for you. Try to talk to your partner about what you want and how you feel about things. You can also talk to your health care team about how you feel.

We have a section for partners of women with cervical cancer. Click here to read more. 

Being intimate with a partner can be a very important part of a relationship and even if things have changed there may be ways to improve these changes. Remember that you are not alone, half of the women that took our sex and intimacy survey were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with their sex life. You can get help and support to improve things if you want to. Some of the information in this section can be helpful in identifying any issues you are currently having. Your Cancer Nurse Specialist can refer you to a specialist who can provide you with an opportunity to work on regaining intimacy with your partner.

If you’re starting a new relationship

It is difficult when you meet someone new to explain that you have been through a diagnosis of cervical cancer and all that may entail. Everyone is different; some people will prefer to tell someone straight away, but other people may not. Disclosing what you have been through should always be your choice. Our online forum is a source of support if you want to talk about this issue.  You can also talk to your health care team about how you feel and how to deal with starting a new sexual relationship.

Some of the information in this section could be helpful to identify any issues you may be facing.

Jessica’s story

Watch Jessica’s story to hear more about the affects her diagnosis and treatment have had on her relationship.

Visit our cancer stories information page to hear about other women’s experiences.

Date last updated: 
07 Dec 2015
Date due for review: 
11 Feb 2018

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