Haematological malignancies and sexuality
The goal of this section is to discuss in depth the topic of haematological mailgnancies and sexuality, so that people that are diagnosed with leukemia or another hematologic neoplasia have more information about it.
It is probable that a blood cancer diagnostic affects the patient both physically and psychologically. One of the possible questions that the patient may have is surely how will the treatment affect her actual or future sexual relationships. It is possible that the patient feels different because of the physical changes that she is suffering; she may feel depressed or nervous or she may even have less interest in having intimate relationships. She will probably have few occasions to be alone or have some intimate moments with her partner, due to hospitalization or treatment.
Some important facts that should be taken into account are:
● If the woman is sexually active it is important to use contraception methods during the treatment. Some drugs can be very harmful for the fetus. It is really important to do so, even if the woman was told that she could not get pregnant. The use of barrier contraceptive methods, such as preservatives, is also advised for non stable couples, in order to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
● It is also possible that the sexual interest of the patient will be affected by some secondary effects of the treatment, such as tiredness, nausea, vaginal dryness, pain or aches during the sexual act. The patient should ask her haematologist about the possible secondary effects of the drugs she is taking. Some treatments may cause vaginal dryness. Talk with the doctor about the use of lubricants or other aids to make the sexual act more comfortable.
● Your haematologist may recommend not having sexual relationships for some time if the amount of white globules is lower than 1000, the level of platelets is less than 20000 or there are other medical reasons.
● It is common for your partner to have his own questions about the sexual act, or it may be that he is unable to express his feelings. In many hospitals there are psycho-oncologist services that may help in these situations. Contact them in this case.
This section is merely informative and general, please contact your haematologist for the specific effects that treatment may have on your sexual life.
We encourage you to ask to your doctor all the questions you may have on this matter.
For more information:
- Sexuality and Reproductive Issues - National Cancer Institute