5 Ways You Are Avoiding Intimacy After Cancer

July 24, 2017


Intimacy is a huge part of survivorship that is often overlooked or ignored.  Your quality of life is hugely impacted by a lack of intimacy.  You owe it to yourself to give love and receive love by reintroducing intimacy with your partner after cancer.


From the moment you are diagnosed, your mind starts to wander.   So many questions go through your head, and it’s safe to assume that most of you don’t think about how cancer is going to change your sex life.  You start the process and are so consumed with staying alive, sex and intimacy probably went on the backburner.  The only touch you have is when you are being poked and prodded by needles, amidst surgery, radiation, etc.  Each one of these touches send you further and further away from positive thoughts surrounding touch. It is normal for you to put off sex when you are feeling sick from chemotherapy, sore from surgery, or pained and raw from radiation.  As time goes on, the desire for sex and intimacy diminishes because you have been going through the motions without it, so eventually you don’t even miss it.  If you did try to engage in sex, and it was painful…forget about it.  It’s the last thing on your mind.   The problem is, your partner still desires intimacy and sex.  So what do you do?


Your brain is your biggest sex organ. It’s time to get back into the game.  You need and deserve positive, healthy touch.  In addition to calming us down and reducing our stress response, touch also increases the release of oxytocin, which is also called the "cuddle hormone".  This hormone affects trust behaviors and promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding.  This is incredibly important at this point in your life after all the feelings of fear, resentment, blame, and anger.  


Sex is an important factor in quality of life, no matter your age, but it all starts with intimacy.  After cancer, intimacy is sometimes avoided for a number of reasons.


  1. Your partner is scared to touch you because they fear you will reject them.  During treatment, they may have tried to initiate sex and you said no, or maybe even raised your voice, or in their mind, “made an excuse”.

  2. Your partner may feel like they will hurt you.  They saw you at such a delicate time; they don’t want to hurt you physically or emotionally.

  3. You have clocked out.  Feelings of depression, sadness, resentment, etc. can create distance between you and your partner.  Especially if you don’t feel like they understand. 

  4. Lack of communication.  You tried sex and it was painful. Ouch! Your brain is sending a signal to your genitals saying No! Stay away!  So you avoid intimacy in fear of your partner trying to go further.  His simple desire for cuddling may be just that…cuddling.  Without communication, you may assume he wants sex and avoid that intimacy all together.  Communication is key.

  5. You’re sick and/or tired.  Treatment and medications can cause fatigue, nausea, pain, and more.  You avoid touch because you don’t want to make it worse.


These are just 5 ways that you may be avoiding intimacy unintentionally. 


Reintroduce intimacy into your relationship, and then the sex will come.  Communicate and set boundaries.  Tell your partner exactly what you want.  If you want to cuddle and make out like teenagers, great! Make sure to let him know that, so he does not have expectations of sex.  Let your partner know you want to, but you are not ready.  Take those baby steps and allow your mind and body a chance to reconnect.

Schedule a free consultation call to get you back on track!

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Natalie Hatjes, MS CHT

Sex Coach & Hypnotherapist

South Florida


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