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Getting support with sex and relationships

Navigating sex and relationships after a cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Whether you’re struggling with changes to your relationship, physical difficulties with getting intimate, or psychological barriers that make sex unsatisfying, there is help and support available to make sure you have the best possible quality of life.

On this page:

Getting support from your healthcare professional

Speaking to a trusted GP, clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or other healthcare professional who you feel comfortable with is a good first step. They can offer advice that is tailored to your medical need and individual situation.

They will work with you to identify or rule out any physical issues that you might need further support with. They will then assess what support you need – for example, self-management techniques, treatment, or referral to a specialist.

If you aren’t happy with the support you get, you can always ask for a second opinion from another healthcare professional.

Specialist centres and services at the hospital

Most NHS cancer centres should be able to offer you some form of psychological therapy with a clinical psychologist. You can ask your CNS or healthcare team about how to access this. Some centres may also offer psychosexual services as part of their survivorship and recovery packages.

If you are no longer under the care of the hospital, you can ask your GP to refer you for talking therapy or psychosexual therapy. Sexual therapy is not always covered on the NHS, but your GP may be able to request funding for you.

Self-referral to sex and relationships services

In England, you will be able to self-refer to your local IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service. This is not currently available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so if you live in these countries you will need to access services through your GP or healthcare team at the hospital.

Read more about self-referral on the NHS website >

Support with cervical cancer 

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

We are a UK charity providing information and support about cervical cancer. As well as our support services, we organise national and local events for those affected. You can read more about our support services below.

www.jostrust.org.uk

Helpline: 0808 802 8000

Eve Appeal

A UK charity offering information and support about gynaecological cancers, including cervical cancer, on their website.

www.eveappeal.org.uk

Macmillan Cancer Support

Offers a wide range of resources and information relating to cancer, including relationships, communication and sexuality.

www.macmillan.org.uk

Support Line: 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm)

Relationship counselling and therapy

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Has a directory of accredited therapists specialising in different areas, including cancer, sex and relationships.

www.bacp.co.uk/search/therapists

The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)

Offers reliable and accurate information about sex and relationship issues, including practical advice and tips. They have a section dedicated to cancer, sex and relationships, as well as a directory of professional therapists in your local area, and information on what to expect from therapy.

www.cosrt.org.uk/cancer-sex-and-relationships

Pink Therapy

An independent organisation that works with gender and sexual diversity clients. If you’re a member of the LGBT+ community recovering from cervical cancer, you may find it useful to access psychological support that’s specifically tailored to your gender identity or sexuality.

www.pinktherapy.com

Relate

Offers counselling, support and information for all relationships and sexual problems.

www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-sex

Support with sexual problems and sexual health

The Sexual Advice Association

A charity offering information leaflets on sexual difficulties, including one on intimacy and sexuality for cancer patients and their partners. Also has an app, where you can access confidential, expert advice on questions you may otherwise feel uncomfortable about asking.

www.sexualadviceassociation.co.uk/

The Vulval Pain Society

A UK charity that aims to promote and protect the physical and mental health of people suffering from vulval pain. They provide support, education and practical advice on vulval pain.

www.vulvalpainsociety.org/vps/

My Body Back

A project working with women, trans men and non-binary people who have experienced sexual violence, supporting them to love and care for their bodies again. They provide a safe space, called Café V, to talk about enjoying sex again. They have also created a ‘Clit List’ with information on sexual aids and toys, tutorials and erotic media for those who would like to explore their sexuality using feminist, non-misogynistic and empowering content. This list was curated specifically with women who have experienced sexual violence in mind.

www.mybodybackproject.com/

CliniQ

A specialist clinic in London, run by a team of trans and trans-friendly health professionals. They offer a counselling service, including relationship counselling, as well as sexual health services and online resources.

www.cliniq.org.uk/

Psychological support

Get Self Help

A website offering lots of self-help information and work sheets, using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques. It offers CBT self-help information on issues like anxiety, low self-esteem and depression, as well as mindfulness exercises.

www.getselfhelp.co.uk

Maggie's

A cancer support charity offering support groups and counselling services specifically for cancer patients, as well as partners, family and friends.

www.maggies.org

Mind

A UK charity providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

www.mind.org.uk

Infoline: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm – except for bank holidays)

Email: [email protected]

Read more about mental health and cervical cancer >

Support from Jo’s

Talking about changes to your sex life or relationships after a cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment can be scary, embarrassing or distressing. But it’s important that you don’t struggle with any changes alone. We have lots of information about sex, intimacy and relationships that might be useful to read, as well as experiences from others who have been through it.

See all our information about sex and relationships >

If the suggestions on this page don’t feel right for you, or you feel overwhelmed with choice, you can give our free Helpline a call on 0808 802 8000. Our trained volunteers can talk through your options or simply listen to what’s going on.

Check the opening hours >

Sometimes connecting with others who have gone through a similar experience can be helpful. Our online Forum lets our community give and get support. It even has a section dedicated to relationships. You can read through the messages or post your own – whichever feels most comfortable.

Join our Forum >

If you have general questions about sex or relationships after cervical cancer, our panel of medical experts may be able to help. They can’t give you answers about your individual situation or health – it’s best to speak with your GP or healthcare team for that.

Use our Ask the Expert service >

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Talk to someone about how you’re feeling, ask an expert or connect with others.

Get support
Date last updated: 
28 Oct 2020
Date due for review: 
28 Oct 2023
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