Loss of Libido
Libido is your desire for sex or “sexual drive.” Loss of libido is when you have a less than normal sex drive for you. It is common to have loss of libido while receiving cancer treatment.
What causes loss of libido?
The loss of libido can happen to anyone. But physical and emotional effects of cancer treatments can lead to loss of libido. Examples of treatments that can affect your libido are hormone therapy, some surgeries, and taking medication to manage pain.
Side effects from cancer treatments can also cause loss of libido, such as:
- Nausea or pain.
- Changes in body image.
- Erectile dysfunction in males.
- Vaginal dryness in females.
How is loss of libido managed?
How loss of libido is managed depends on what is causing it. If you are having loss of libido, there are many 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. Do not take medication to improve your libido without talking to your provider, 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 hard for people to discuss their sexuality, so your care provider may ask questions to help you discuss any concerns you have with them.
How does cancer affect sexual desire in men? American Cancer Society. (2020, February 5). Retrieved August 1, 2022, from 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
Cancer, sex, and the female body. American Cancer Society. (2020, February 6). Retrieved August 1, 2022, from 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
How cancer can affect your sexuality and sex life. How cancer can affect your sexuality and sex life | Cancer Research UK. (2021, October 14). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/sex/effects