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How Chemotherapy Affects Sexual Drive

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Chemotherapy and Sex

Although chemotherapy may affect the sexual organs of both male and female patients, it does not affect their desire to have sex. The type of anti-cancer drug being used, the age of the patient and the stage of disorder or disease are important factors to consider in relation to sexual needs.

1. Effects on Women

Pregnancy. Anti-cancer drugs are generally not recommended during pregnancy. It is common knowledge that birth control methods should be employed during the period of chemotherapy and after. However, if you are pregnant at the time of diagnosis and chemotherapy is warranted, then your doctor would counsel you on the risks and benefits of treatment. Treatment may even be deferred till you are beyond the first trimester of pregnancy, which is, 12 weeks when the risks to the fetus are less. On the other hand, if the pregnancy is in its advanced stage, then a collective decision to await delivery before commencing treatment may be taken. The options of a termination of pregnancy-an abortion-have to be discussed in the light of social, legal and religious belief s and implications. If you have already been on chemotherapy and wish to have a child, it is the best you wait for about 3 to 6 months after the treatment before getting pregnant.

Fertility. Some anti-cancer drugs can cause some degree of infertility or sterility. This could be temporary or permanent. Factors like your age, the combination if medication, the length of period of treatment and other modalities of treatment will influence your reproductive abilities.

The menstrual cycle. If a Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and an Oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) have been performed, then menopausal effects may be observed. Should the uterus be preserved, some patients may still suffer from the effects of menopause either because of age or the affects of both radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Your menstrual periods could become scanty or totally cease.

2. Effects on Men

Anti-cancer drugs are known to reduce the number of sperms in the testes. They can also reduce the mobility of sperms and may be the cause of a certain proportion of abnormal sperms. Men may become infertile during the period of chemotherapy.

However, after completion of therapy, although many continue to be sterile, many find sperm counts improving and often, returning to normal. Sterility should not be confused with the desire to have sex. If at all there is a reduction in this desire, very often it can be ascribed to anxiety, stress, and fatigue. If you want to have children subsequently, you should seriously consider the possibility of banking sperms prior to chemotherapy. Banking of sperms should be done before you begin on chemotherapy.


1. Sex and chemotherapy

2. How chemotherapy might affect your sex life

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