Changing feelings about intimacy


Feelings about close physical and intimate relationships are related to the way people think about how they look to others, their ability to handle physical activity, level of fatigue, sexuality, anxiety or stress. These can place a strain on normal expressions of sexuality and can create concern about sexual desire.

The effect of cancer treatment on sexuality is different for everyone. Some people are unaffected, while others have changes in their desired level of activity. Some find the experience brings them closer to their partner. Others may find sexual activity to be less important for a time. These feelings are not unusual; don’t delay getting information or counseling if problems arise.

Patients are encouraged to speak to their doctor or nurse about any concerns they have. He or she can provide advice or information about people who can help. Some basic suggestions include:

  • Get information, rather than worrying; discuss questions or concerns with a doctor or nurse
  • Share feelings with a partner
  • Try different ways of expressing intimacy

Cancer counseling services at Penn Medicine offer support and information about changing feelings about intimacy and other concerns cancer patients may face as they undergo cancer treatment.

The Abramson Cancer Center offers psychological and spiritual counseling. For more information about counseling services at the Abramson Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-800-789-PENN or call directly 215-615-0534.

The Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital also offers multiple programs for stress reduction, including psychological counseling, stress and energy management, music therapy, guided imagery, art therapy and spiritual counseling. For more information about counseling services at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital or to make an appointment, call 1-800-789-PENN or call directly 215-829-6466.

The Penn Program for Mindfulness is an evidence-based program that teaches patients how to manage stress with tools taught by qualified instructors. The Penn Program for Mindfulness is available to patients at the Abramson Cancer Center and the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Learn more about The Penn Program for Mindfulness.

Learn about Sexuality During Cancer Treatment on OncoLink