Sex and your body

Being treated for ovarian cancer can also affect your body and sex life.

Many women find it embarrasing to talk about sex with a health professional but it's an important issue that can influence your well being and recovery.

Common issues include:

"I don't want to have sex"

After a surgical menopause your testosterone levels will reduce and you may feel less like having sex. It’s normal to go off sex at times. How much you want to have sex also depends on:

  • Your general well-being
  • Satisfaction with relationships
  • Stress levels
  • Tiredness
  • Self confidence

You or your partner may experience a low sex drive due to emotions related to your diagnosis and treatment.

You may find sex no longer gives you pleasure, or is painful, which may also make you less willing to give it try.

What can I do?

  • Talk to your clinical nurse specialist or GP. Hormone levels are an important factor in sexual desire and response. A health professional can prescribe medication like hormone replacement therapy.
  • Be open and honest with yourself and your partner. Being open about your worries and fears and any pain may help you both to feel more relaxed and resolve any problems. Ask your partner what they are concerned about too. Talking to each other can deepen your relationship and have a positive effect on intimacy. You may decide to avoid sex for a while but concentrate on kissing and cuddling, or you may decide to try longer foreplay and different positions

"My vagina feels dry"

After a surgical menopause changes in your oestrogen levels can cause changes to your vagina and the tissues surrounding it.

This may lead to your vagina feeling itchy and dry.

What can I do?

  • Explore lubrication. Lubricants can improve sensation and moistness. You may wish to try a non-hormonal vaginal moisturiser or oestrogen applied directly to the vagina as a long-term treatment. It’s worth exploring the options with your clinical nurse specialist or GP.

"It's painful to have sex"

Changes in your hormone levels and vaginal dryness can make sex painful.

Some women develop internal scarring and adhesions that may cause pain each time they have sex.

Pain can happen during sex when you don't feel sufficiently aroused. And experienceing painful sex can also kill arousal.

What can I do?

  • Be kind and pamper yourself. Looking after yourself can help build up your self confidence so that you feel more relaxed having sex
  • Talk to a professional. Your clinical nurse specialist can advise you or refer you to a sexual health specialist

"I can't orgasm"

You may experience orgasm differently to how you did before treatment or you may struggle to achieve orgasm.

What can I do?

  • Take your time. Painful sex can prevent some women from experiencing an orgasm. It may be that sex is only painful when first having intercourse following surgery and it will settle as your body recovers.
  • Find out what helps you to relax. Feeling relaxed can help you to enjoy sex, you may find that once you start to feel better about your body you will start to enjoy sex more too.
  • Talk to your partner. Being open with your partner can help you to enjoy sex. You may decide to make some changes together or not have sex for a while.