Outcomes4Me is a 2024 Fast Company World Changing Idea! Learn more >>

Breast Cancer Guide: Navigating sexual health and well-being

Written By:

Breast Cancer sexual health

Breast cancer treatment extends beyond physical healing, deeply touching upon your sexual health and psychological well-being. Dealing with the emotional impact of mastectomy, the physical changes from chemotherapy, and the challenges brought on by medically induced menopause requires strength, knowledge, and support.

Losing one or both breasts to mastectomy can profoundly impact your sense of self, potentially leading to feelings of grief and a loss of identity. It’s important to seek psychological support through counseling or therapy and to connect with support groups for understanding and community.

Treatments like chemotherapy can result in hair loss, skin changes, and scarring, which may alter how you perceive yourself and how you believe others see you. Exploring resources to manage these changes, whether it’s finding comfortable clothing, trying out wigs or scarves, or adopting new skincare routines, can be beneficial.

Weight gain, a common side effect of some breast cancer treatments, can challenge your body image and self-esteem. Seeking guidance from a nutritionist and emotional support from therapists or support groups can help in navigating these changes.

Medically induced menopause, either through medication or surgical removal of the ovaries, leads to a sudden drop in estrogen levels, intensifying menopausal symptoms. Drugs like tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors can exacerbate these symptoms. Loss of libido, vaginal dryness, and vaginal atrophy are common side effects, but there are ways to manage them.

To dive deeper into these topics and explore strategies for managing the sexual health challenges associated with breast cancer recovery, we invite you to register for the upcoming “Ask the Expert” webinar titled “Sexuality and Intimacy for Breast Cancer Patients & Survivors.” Coinciding with World Cancer Day and its theme to #CloseTheCareGap, we believe this webinar can shine a light on sexuality and related support as an unmet need following cancer treatment. 

This insightful session, featuring Jennifer Barsky Reese, PhD, an esteemed behavioral scientist and licensed psychologist, will provide valuable perspectives on improving care and outcomes related to sexual health for those affected by cancer. Dr. Reese, with her extensive research and clinical experience, will offer practical advice and answer your questions live!


Join us on Wednesday, February 14th at 2pm ET for this empowering event. Register here. To submit your question for a chance to have Dr. Reese address it live: Ask Outcomes4Me


About Dr. Jennifer Barsky Reese:

Dr. Jennifer Barsky Reese, an Associate Professor with tenure in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center and a secondary position at Temple University’s College of Public Health, is a renowned expert in the field. Her research focuses on developing interventions to improve sexual health and quality of life for cancer patients. A graduate of Barnard College and Rutgers University, with post-doctoral training at Duke University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Reese has co-authored over 65 journal articles and book chapters. Her significant contributions have earned her Fellow status in the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the New Investigator Award from the American Psychosocial Oncology Society in 2021. She is the current Chair of the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer and actively contributes to several scientific organizations.

Related Articles

The life expectancy for stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) without treatment can vary...
Metastasis to the brain is a possible complication of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and...