Sex can (and probably should) be a priority when you (or your partner) are dealing with the effects of breast cancer – from treatment to trouble sleeping, cancer can cause all kinds of inconvenient, uncomfortable and emotionally draining obstacles, but that doesn’t mean sex has to be off the table.
The American Cancer Society assures us that breast cancer treatment doesn’t affect women’s physical ability to orgasm – it’s just a little trickier to “get there” – which is GREAT news. Because orgasms are good for your health and can help with everything from pain relief to brightening your mood and easing anxiety. So getting busy should be as high a priority as getting to your appointments on time, right?
But it’s no secret that sex – at least, the kind of sex we’re accustomed to – is different when your body is experiencing the side effects of breast cancer treatment. While there are some we can clearly see (mastectomies and surgeries rendering breasts tender or desensitized, extreme fatigue, etc.), others are less obvious but incredibly common (vaginal dryness, muscle tightness, loss of libido). Fortunately there’s something you can do about it – and the solutions are as affordable as they are easy to try!
1. Moisturizer…for Your Vagina.
Dryness is tough to deal with whether or not sex is in the picture, but there are affordable moisturizers on the market that not only replenish moisture to delicate skin, but also can help maintain a healthy pH and even help grow healthy bacteria down below. There are no hormones or chemicals that will get in the way of your regular health routine – just look for brands that have organic ingredients, no parabens, no glycerin, no estrogen and are fragrance-free. You can order most of them online!
2. Lots of Lube.
Before breast cancer, it’s possible that you or your partner were proud of your natural waterworks, so to speak, and had no trouble keeping things slick and smooth. But the body’s natural ability to lubricate – no matter how turned on you are – is dramatically affected by cancer treatment, and that’s where lube comes in. The skin in and around the vulva is super sensitive and delicate and any friction, rubbing or chafing not only hurts but can also promote infection. So try an all-natural water-based or silicone-based lubricant and see how much better sex can feel! No need to start with something fancy; many drugstore brands have natural versions of their classic lubricants, so start at your local pharmacy!
3. Mini vibes.
Sex toys come in all shapes, sizes and prices, but don’t let fancy gadgets and technology distract you. These little vibrators make orgasms come easier and faster whether you’re solo or with a partner and you don’t need bells and whistles to help get the job done. A simple bullet or mini vibe is all you need and there are many different colors and styles to choose from – and some of the best beginner vibes cost less than $10! So shop around and see what styles appeal to you the most. Think of it as a sexy gift for yourself!
4. Kegels & Intimate “Exercise.”
Your muscles may be tense or totally lax, depending on how your experience has affected your physical self, and they can get in the way of intimacy. If you find your vagina feels too tight to comfortably fit something inside, you may benefit from some “exercise” from the relaxation realm. As a form of foreplay, try breathing meditation or something you can focus on to calm and soothe your body and put your mind at ease. Try the technique in tip #2 here! You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to have sex afterward!
But if you feel your vagina could use a little strengthening, there are simple exercises you can try that not only will help tighten your vagina, but all help make your orgasms stronger. You’ve probably heard of kegels: squeeze your vagina as though you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing. Then release. Squeeze, hold, then release. There are sex toys out there that can add weights to your routine, too, if you want to take your kegel game to a higher intensity, but those cost money…and regular kegels are completely free! And the best part? You can do them anywhere. (We’re doing them right now!)
5. Sexual Enhancement of the Herbal Kind.
There are many affordable and safe sexual enhancement creams on the market that use natural ingredients to help increase sensitivity and make sex feel better. Some sexual stimulant balms use peppermint or cinnamon for a pleasant tingle wherever they touch, while others get a little more intense and actually help boost blood flow to your intimate areas. Creams with the amino acid L-arginine work within minutes and, when applied to the clitoris, can enhance and heighten sensations considerably. Check with your doctor first, just to be safe, and if he/she gives the green light, get to it!
Getting back into a groove doesn’t have to be an emotional or financial strain, and as you can see, some of these techniques cost no money at all. Keeping an open mind and open heart is the most important part of the process, and the intimacy and love you build while working together is the most potent and natural sexual enhancer on the planet. So have fun and get to it!