Loss of Libido
What is loss of libido?
Libido is a person's sexual desire. Although the loss of libido does occur within the general population, it can also be associated with cancer treatment, such as hormonal treatment, surgery, or emotional stress. In addition, pain, fatigue, changes in body image, stress, erectile dysfunction in males, vaginal dryness in females and other treatment side effects can impact libido. Identifying the underlying cause can assist in the treatment of libido changes.
How is loss of libido managed?
Loss of libido can have many different causes. How it is managed can depend on what is causing it. If you are having loss of libido, there are a number of self-care actions you can follow:
- Be intimate without the pressure to have sex. You can hold hands, talk, massage, and kiss.
- Talk openly with your partner.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- If you are able, exercise regularly. Exercise increases blood flow, energy, and endorphins.
- If you smoke, stop. Cigarette smoking reduces blood flow throughout the body.
- Rest and avoid heavy meals before sexual activity to minimize fatigue.
In addition to these self-care actions, your care provider may prescribe medications. It is important that you not take medication to enhance your libido without your provider's knowledge as this may have an impact on certain types of cancer.
When should I call my care team?
If you or your partner is troubled by loss of libido, talk about your concerns with your care provider. Sometimes it is difficult for people to discuss their sexuality, so your care provider may ask questions to help you discuss any concerns you have with them.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Can Affect a Man's Desire and Sexual Response. 2017. Found at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/fertility-and-sexual-side-effects/sexuality-for-men-with-cancer/treatment-and-desire-and-response.html
American Cancer Society. Cancer, Sex and the Female Body. 2017. Found at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/fertility-and-sexual-side-effects/sexuality-for-women-with-cancer/cancer-sex-sexuality.html
Cancer Research UK. How cancer can affect your sexuality and sex life. 2015. Found at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping-with-cancer/coping-physically/sex-sexuality-and-cancer/how-cancer-can-affect-your-sexuality-and-sex-life