Leukaemia Foundation

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Body Image

Your diagnosis and treatment may well have some impact on how you feel about your sexuality.

Hair loss, skin changes and fatigue can all reduce feelings of attractiveness. You may experience a decrease in libido, which is the body’s sexual urge or desire, without there being any obvious reason. It may take some time for things to return to what you are happy to consider ‘normal‘. 

Partners are sometimes afraid that sex might in some way harm the person who has cancer. This is not likely as long as the partner is free from any infections and the sex is relatively gentle. It is perfectly reasonable and safe to have sex when you feel like it, but there are some precautions you need to take. It is usually recommended that a woman who has been diagnosed with blood cancer does not become pregnant while she is receiving treatment and for some time afterwards. This is because some of the treatments given might harm the developing baby.

Helpful suggestions

  • Try to remember that over time your physical appearance will improve.
  • In the meantime it is important to do things that make you feel good about yourself. This might include enjoying the company of friends and having regular exercise and relaxation. 
  • Simply touching the person that you love can give a powerful sense of acceptance and warmth and a sense that you are sharing their journey with them.
  • 'Look Good… Feel Better' is a free community service that runs programs on how to manage the appearance-related side-effects of cancer treatments. Contact them on 1800 650 960 (freecall) or visit www.lgfb.org.au
  • If you have any questions or concerns about sexual activity orcontraception, talk about these with your doctor or nurse, or ask for a referral to a doctor or health professional who specialises in sexuality.

I think it’s really important to realise that you won’t look like a patient in a hospital bed forever… it takes time but you will feel and look normal again…