Partnership and sexuality after cancer

Cancer often puts a relationship to the test. In addition to the shock and worry about the uncertain future, there is also the question of whether and how the attitude to the partner changes. “In good times and in bad times”, the diagnosis takes on a whole new dimension.

Allow fears and express worries

Both support each other in a healthy partnership. If the relationship has existed for decades, both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They complement each other, support each other and accept help. One of the two falls seriously ill, but his balance is upset. The partners have to find each other again. This can also mean that they have to switch roles that have proven themselves over a long period of time. Above all, it is the long-standing couples who face a difficult challenge, because their roles can have become very solid. Freeing yourself from this, taking on new tasks and also intensively looking after each other brings both to the limits.

This burden is particularly high among young people with children. After all, the everyday stress remains, which includes working. Worries about the future, which are also financial, strain both partners and therefore the relationship. Against this background, both should be aware that nothing is the way it was and that everything changes from now on. The more willing they are to get involved, the more likely they are that they will be able to deal emotionally with the crisis. This includes allowing pain, anger, disappointment and fear.

Uncertainties and problems may be discussed. It is only natural if this happens step by step. Both partners should and may get professional help if they want to. Self-help groups, psychotherapists and social organizations offer trained staff who answer important questions and provide helpers when it becomes too much for those affected. All of these are possible offers that are voluntary. Those who want to manage the conflicts on their own have all the rights to do so. Couples who have not known each other for a long time or who are in conflict can fail or reunite due to cancer. They have to find out for themselves whether they can and want to do this.

Endure the pressure and survive as a couple

Even in a stable relationship, such a difficult diagnosis is a crisis. It is only natural that the partner who is not ill tries to motivate the patient as much as possible and to get them to fight the disease. This can help the patient himself in many situations, it can be vital support, but it can also overwhelm him if pain and exhaustion permanently exceed the stress limit. It doesn’t help if experts assure that such situations affect almost all cancer patients and their partners. Every couple has to face this situation and strive to meet the requirements. There is no shortcut and no detour.

Since every cancer can take a different course, there is no general recommendation. The personal life situation of the couple plays an important role here. Those involved should therefore always be aware that they are entitled to experienced helpers who are available to provide them with important tips. They can provide clarity in difficult situations. This also includes understanding that the partners experience cancer differently and have to cope with it differently. However, both must be aware that there is no guarantee that the relationship will survive this challenge. This realization should not be an impending scenario, but a warning to treat the other with respect, who also has to deal with the situation,

After cancer – what’s next?

With cancer, the experience of sexuality in a relationship also decreases. Closeness and tenderness may and should exist in pain-free times, provided the physical strength is sufficient for this. However, the variety of drugs affects many bodily functions. Potency and blood flow to the mucous membranes are part of what can make intimacy impossible. For most couples, sexuality is an indispensable and human stabilizer of the relationship. If that doesn’t work, psychotherapeutic support can help accept the loss of closeness and the disappointment associated with it. Here, too, there are opportunities to put your own hopes and disappointments into words and understand them in the course of discussions with experienced specialists. This is important, because the quarreling with the inevitable fate blocks in everyday life and at worst can poison the atmosphere or make it difficult to deal with each other. The chances are that there will be physical closeness again. But some things can change permanently.

Altered bodies after undergoing cancer

Es sind vor allem die Operationen und Medikamente, die für eine dauerhafte Veränderung des Körpers sorgen. Männer können ihre Erektionsfähigkeit verlieren, Frauen erleben Brustamputationen als einen Eingriff in ihre Weiblichkeit. Es kommt zu Veränderungen der eigenen Wahrnehmung und kann die Sexualität einschränken bzw. unmöglich machen. Je vertrauter das Paar miteinander ist und umso bereitwilliger, die Situation anzunehmen, desto erfüllender können neue Erfahrungen sein. Eine Krebserkrankung zu überstehen, ist ein großer Erfolg. Dennoch verändert es das Paar, wie auch die Familie, und das hat Einfluss auf das Zusammenleben. Der Patient braucht Zuspruch und genug Zeit zu verstehen, dass die Gefühle sich nicht verändern, wenn der Körper nicht mehr der ist, der er vorher war. Der Partner darf nicht in die Situation gedrängt werden, die einzige Person zu sein, die Halt und Kraft gibt. Beide brauchen Unterstützung und haben das Recht, Schwäche zu zeigen.

Future plans that change

If it affects young couples who are still starting a family, the cancer often has consequences, the extent of which only becomes apparent later. This includes the realization that there will be no children. This diagnosis is not always final, but it is not uncommon. The ability to reject and reforge plans is different for each person. Some couples pass this test, others decide to give their lives a different turn. In any case, it is worthwhile to accept the various advisory services and to check what alternatives there are.

After all, there are many ways to start a family and couples who have survived a severe crisis bring with them life experience and stability to offer a child a loving environment. There is helpful support in all phases of cancer. Those affected will not only find advice from the responsible authorities, but also trained listeners who often have personal experience in the field. Such an exchange can clarify your own goals and thus help everyone to give life a new direction.


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