Breast cancer and low female sex drive

Breast cancer and female sex drive

Younger Breast Cancer Survivors Cope With Sexual Dysfunction


Like their older counterparts, younger women with breast cancer may have sexual difficulties, like poor vaginal lubrication, low sexual interest, and trouble with orgasms. You may find that it has become harder to get aroused, and even harder to experience orgasm. “It takes so long to make it happen,” said one woman.

This dullness of response—if you can call it a response—is a consistent complaint. You must be open with your doctor, so that he or she can suggest appropriate medical solutions. Loss of desire and drive may be directly related to your lower estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone levels, brought on by your breast cancer treatment.

Many would like to address these problems during doctor’s visits, but that does not always happen.

Breast cancer has numerous effects on a woman’s sexual quality of life, even when women are diagnosed at a young age.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 266,120 cases of female breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018. While women of any age can develop breast cancer, it is more common in middle-aged and older women. About 2% of women are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 34.

About 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive at least five years, the National Cancer Institute adds.

Survivors often want to know more about the ways cancer and its treatment might affect their sexuality, but their doctors don’t always provide this information.

A recent paper published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer looked at the sexual lives of 43 women between the ages of 20 to 35 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer at least six months before the study.

The women completed a series of questionnaires on their lives before cancer and the quality of their sexual lives during treatment and in general.

Over half of the women reported sexual problems. The most common problems were low desire and trouble with orgasm.

Such problems are often experienced by breast cancer survivors. Past research has shown that many women struggle with diminished interest in sex, poor lubrication, painful intercourse, and orgasm difficulties. Body image is another frequent concern, as women may feel self-conscious or less attractive if they have undergone mastectomy or lost their hair to chemotherapy.

In the current study, almost half the women said they wanted follow-up from their doctors for sexual problems related to cancer, but only 7% actually received it.

What can women do? When visiting your oncology team, don’t hesitate to bring up your concerns about sexuality. Many sexual problems can be treated. For example, women experiencing vaginal dryness might consider a lubricant. Those who feel uncomfortable with their body might try counseling.

While you might feel that survival takes higher priority, don’t forget that your sex life is still an important part of your overall well-being.


National Cancer Institute

“Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer”

Nam, James, PharmD

“Young Survivors of Breast Cancer Report Sexual Quality of Life Declines After Treatment”

(August 20, 2018)