Doctors and social workers at Women & Infants believe that cancer and any related surgery or treatment should not snuff out a woman’s sex life or, when possible, her chances of bearing a child.
Now, women with cancer can make an appointment at the Center for Sexuality, Intimacy and Fertility, the only program in the region to address sexuality in the shadow of cancer treatment or surgery.
The Center operates through the Program in Women’s Oncology (PWO) and draws on the expertise of staff at two other Women & Infants’ departments – the Women’s Primary Care Center (WPCC) and the Division of Reproductive Medicine and Infertility. Doreen Wiggins, MD, of the Breast Health Center, and Don Dizon, MD, of the PWO, are co-directors.
There are many reasons women can have difficulties with intimacy during and after cancer treatments, including:
- Changes in body image, including feelings of de-feminization if the reproductive organs or breasts are removed
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during intercourse after surgery in the pelvic area
- Decrease in hormones that inhibit desire and pleasure
If a woman is experiencing pain during intercourse, for example, she can be referred to a WPCC physician. If the issue centers on her self-image, our Integrative Medicine Program and staff of social workers may help. If there is a component of depression, psychiatry and counseling services are available.
Women who still wish to bear children and wish to explore options before, during or after cancer treatment can find help in the Division of Reproductive Medicine and Infertility. This center will act as the first stop for women to access the vast resources available at Women & Infants.