Cancer and Sexuality

Cancer can have dramatic effects on the lives of survivors and their loved ones. When someone we love has cancer, it can cause rifts in family ties, depression, and severe grief. Most of these issues are understood by professionals who strive to help cancer patients and their families. Yet there is one area of a cancer survivor’s life that is often overlooked by the survivor and the medical staff that treat her and that is: her sex life. For the first time, Boulder Community Hospital will be offering a class to help women who have struggled with cancer to reignite their sex lives.

Often cancer survivors will suffer from medical, psychological, and/or physical issues that inhibit a healthy sex life. Chemotherapy can impact their sex drive. Their relationship with their partner may have shifted and become strained due to a change in roles from lovers to one of caregiver and patient. Body image may also become an issue.

An introductory class for women, Cancer and Sexuality, is being offered this Thursday, January 16th, 2014 from 5pm to 6pm at Boulder Community Hospital Tebo Family Medical Pavilion, Brandi Conference Room. This class will address concerns beyond survival by looking at thriving sexually. Cancer and Sexuality is free and open to women who are interested in learning more about the four week class being offered in February 2014. February’s classes are from 5pm to 6:30pm and held every Thursday of the month. These classes will focus on sharing women’s experiences with cancer and how it has affected their sex lives. Activities and exercises will be offered to participants in class and some will be given to try out with their partner and their selves at home. By creating a conversation in a community setting of women, we’ll discuss what worked, what is working, and what still needs help. The aim is to increase awareness of sex and sexuality, as we look at partnerships, body image, dating, and some tips to effectively work with physical symptoms like dryness and pain. These classes will be taught by Tara Galeano L.P.C., CST.

Tara Galeano is a licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist. She has been in private practice as a psychotherapist in Boulder for fourteen years. She has taught at Naropa University, Colorado School for Family and Play Therapy, University of Colorado at Boulder, and other private and governmental businesses. Attendees of her classes and workshops have enjoyed her calm, warm, and welcoming style of presenting pertinent information in a direct way.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause women to suffer from sickness, fatigue, irritability, and nausea. Women just don’t feel sexy with those symptoms. Some surgeries, such as mastectomies, can also alter a woman’s image of herself and she may not feel sexually attractive to her partner. It takes a woman  time to rediscover and explore her new body image by herself. It is important for her to take this time to feel sexy with herself before she can feel sexy with others.

Women can also suffer from a reduced sex drive, either directly from treatment or indirectly from the psychological toll of having cancer. Other complications may include body dysmorphia due to mastectomies, poorer mental health, and vaginal dryness. These are caused by the fact that cancer patients are only looking at their own survival, which makes sense at the time. However, once treatment is over, women have the opportunity to relax and open up to experiencing pleasure in their lives again. Cancer and Sexuality will help with that.

A cancer survivors’ relationship with her partner can also become strained. The new role that their partner takes on is usually one of a caregiver. One of the biggest problems that women experience is not being able to adequately relate to their partners the immensity of what they have experienced. For their partner, having not had cancer, understanding their beloved’s emotions is difficult (Fobair, P, 2006). The caregiver has seen the survivor at their most vulnerable and they may become fearful of touching their significant other. In the recent past, physical contact may have caused pain; the caregiver has learned to not touch so as not to cause pain. Cancer and Sexuality will address this dynamic.

To register for the free, introductory class or the February four week series, please contact Tara at Tara@BoulderSexTherapy.com.

 

Fobair, P., Stewart, S. L., Chang, S., D’Onofrio, C., Banks, P. J. and Bloom, J. R. (2006), Body image and sexual problems in young women with breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 15: 579–594. doi: 10.1002/pon.991

 


Why Do I Find That Sexy?

Why do some things excite one person and not someone else? Not in the sense of a turn-on or a fetish that might be fun to incorporate into bedroom activities, but the seemingly random triggers, or even the ones that excite us at the same time we know they’re dangerous. Many people have an experience when they’re young that impacts their adult sexuality, such as a man who grew up in a rural area and would peek into outhouses to watch girls peeing when he was a boy and who as an adult pays sex workers for “golden showers.”

Read the entire article here: What Turns Us On?


Fanning the Flames

Why should marriage put your sex life in the doldrums, with so many things to try?  If you think you need more spice in your life, one interesting idea is using your sense of smell to create arousal. Lean in slowly for a kiss and pay attention to how your partner smells. It may not be something you’ve given much thought, but you’ll probably be surprised how much of a turn-on the familiar scent of your partner’s body can be. The limbic part of brain that experiences scent is the same part where memory, emotion, and sexuality are stimulated, so it makes sense that smell could set off some sparks in a committed relationship.

Read the entire article here: 5 Ways to Keep the Fireworks Going


Humor, The Hidden Turn-On

A study on chemistry.com asked over a thousand of its members questions about humor in courtship. A nineteen question survey asking things like “have you ever ended a relationship because your sense of humor was incompatible with the person you were dating?” Almost everyone agreed that their date should be able to laugh at themselves, and men and women were practically equally attracted to highbrow humor over sarcasm or bathroom jokes. But perhaps the most enlightening result was that around 80 percent of men wanted to be the “funny” one in the relationship -probably because almost 60 percent of women have fallen in love because of that person’s sense of humor!

Read the entire article here: Humor a Hidden Aphrodisiac


Passion or Companionship? You Make the Call

Patients who come to mental health practitioners seeking to rekindle the flames in a long-term relationship are often advised to embrace a quieter, compassionate love. But is that for the practitioner or the patient to decide? Preserving intensity and excitement often hinges upon the paradox of folding mystery and novelty into a stable relationship. However, people who are so committed to promoting the ideal of a “mature,” calmer love, seem to be encouraging people to deny their desires. Maybe you don’t need to choose between them, but build a relationship that has the potential to be whatever you want it to be.

Read the entire article here: Which is more desirable in relationships: passion or companionship?


The Strange Faces of Sex Addiction

When we think of someone with sex addiction, we might think of someone “hungry like the wolf,” crazed for sex. So many people are surprised to learn that sex addicts are typically very good at hiding their behavior, and actually avoid intimacy with their spouse or need to bring in alcohol or fantasy elements in order to engage in sexual behavior. Others become very good at seeming outwardly romantic to disguise their problems. Sexual addiction in a partner is hard to spot and it is absolutely not your fault if you fail to recognize these signs. If you do, however, be assertive and get help, don’t put the blame on yourself!

Read the entire article here: Sex Addicts Leave a Trail; But it’s Not What You Think


Take your Vitamins and Stop E.D.

Many men who suffer from erectile dysfunction are nervous about taking Viagra. The good news for them is they may be able to cure their erectile dysfunction without it. Researchers at the University of Rome studied the effects of Viagra on 75 men with erectile dysfunction. Eighteen of them did not see any results with the drug, and each of these men was found to have high levels of homocysteine, which also means a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, almost all of them responded well to a vitamin combination therapy of vitamin B6, B12, and folate. Not only were their homocysteine levels lowered, their erectile function was improved!

 

Read the entire article here: B vitamins lower homocysteine and wards off Erectile Dysfunction


Cybersex Addiction

Engaging in sexual activity online can be a stress on your relationship, particularly if the activity involves conversations between yourself and someone outside of your relationship. Viewing sexual content, like pornography, has become fairly well accepted and does not usually pose a relationship problem or develop into an addiction in most people. Only one percent of the twenty million monthly viewers of sexual sites end up becoming sex addicts. These people usually have a pre-existing mental health problem like pathological sexual expression and the anonymity of the internet allows them to get their “fix” easily.

Read the entire article here: Cybersex Addiction: Challenges to Relationships and Recovery


Coming Out on Campus

Attending college can be a positive growing experience for everyone, not least of all for people of the LGTB community. LGBT individuals who came from not very supportive backgrounds might enjoy greater dating opportunities and mental health and community resources than back home, but also face other challenges.  They might need to justify attending college to their families, families who might blame college for encouraging their child’s non-heterosexual identity. Mary L. Gray, associate professor in the Department of Communication and Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington writes about these issues in her new book Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America.

Read the entire article here: Starting College And Coming Out: Challenges And Opportunities

 


Women Always, Men Never

Men are supposed to always be ready for some sexual action, no foreplay required; whereas women are just the opposite, preferring to get “warmed up” before intercourse. Right? No! It’s never a good idea to deal in absolutes or to throw around the term “always,” and talking about so-called sexual norms is alienating. Because our society has these fairly rigid expectations about what normal female and male sexual behavior should be, people who don’t fit into these stereotypes might feel like something is “wrong” with them. These gendered stereotypes also leave out people who do not fit into the categories of male and female and people who are asexual.

Read the entire article here: Women Always, Men Never