It is a complex problem with many causes. Damage to the ovaries from radiation therapy, for example, impairs hormone production and may result in lowered sexual interest. Removal of the testicles in testicular cancer causes a loss of testosterone and of desire, as can bone marrow transplants.
Pain relievers, nausea drugs, beta-blockers for high blood pressure and tranquilizers and antidepressants also decrease libido. As the author, an associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, sums it up: "It's hard to get in the mood for sex when you are generally feeling lousy. Any cancer treatment that produces fatigue, chronic pain, nausea or weakness can decrease your interest."
This valuable book provides accurate information on the causes of these important problems, and offers some reassuring and workable solutions. Many of the suggestions are helpful not only for cancer patients but for people with other illnesses, the elderly and those who believe that sex must involve penetration to provide erotic pleasure.
The author includes sections on exploring sexual touch, on intercourse positions that minimize pain and on exercises that help men and women cope with the genital pain that often occurs after cancer. She also dispels some common myths about sex and cancer, among them that having sexual relations cause cancer to spread, that giving up sex will help cure cancer, that mastectomy destroys a woman's sex life and that cancer is contagious through sex.
The physical aspects of cancer and its treatment are not the only things that interfere with sexuality, according to the author. She writes, "It is the emotional reactions people have to cancer that most commonly cause sexual problems." (The New York Times, Oc