Back

Sexuality and intimacy

Helpful information if you think your intimate relationships may have been affected by a cancer diagnosis, or following treatment.

Intimacy counselling
Cancer Council Victoria & Royal Women’s Hospital (VIC)
Free, confidential phone counselling by medical specialists to support people with cancer and their partners, including members of the LGBTIQ community.
 (support service)

Switchboard
(VIC)
Switchboard is a free service for LGBTQI identifying people with questions or concerns about LGBTQI issues. It offers telephone and web counselling, information and referral. Note that Switchboard does not offer services specifically for people who have had an experience of cancer. For other states of Australia, please contact QLife.
 (support service)

Emotions and sexuality
Cancer Council Victoria (AUS, 2016)
Page discussing how sexuality and intimacy can be affected by the physical and emotional effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
 (web)

Intimacy and sexuality for women with gynaecological cancer: starting a conversation
Cancer Australia (AUS, 2012)
This resource supports women and their partners to understand the effects of gynaecological cancer and treatment on sexuality and intimacy. The resource acknowledges that many people find it difficult to talk about these issues, and provides tips and suggested questions for raising the topic with your treating team. Includes of suggestions on where to go for more information and support.
  (A4 fold-out resource is available to download, or in hard copy)

Sexuality, intimacy and cancer
Cancer Council Australia (AUS, 2016)
This booklet aims to help people with cancer and their partners understand how and why their diagnosis and treatment may affect sexuality and intimacy. Includes key questions to ask your treating team, tips on resuming sexual activity and overcoming specific challenges.
  (84-page booklet is available to download [425KB], or in hard copy)

Being OK…being you: a guide for young people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and have cancer
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (AUS, 2019)
The content is based on interviews with young people who have had a cancer diagnosis and identify as LGBTIQ+, or are still working out their sexuality and gender identity.
  (PDF 58-page booklet)

The thing about cancer. Episode 2: Sex and cancer
Cancer Council New South Wales (AUS, 2017)
In this podcast, Julie McCrossin and Professor Jane Usher talk about how cancer can affect sex and intimacy.
 (podcast)

Living with gynaecological cancer: part 3.3: Intimate and sexual relationships
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (AUS, 2013)
Two women discuss the impact of cancer on sexuality and intimacy in their relationships. Includes comments from a gynaecological cancer nurse and social worker. YouTube sometimes suggests other videos on similar topics. Please be aware that those videos have not been reviewed for the Navigator and may not be reputable.
 (YouTube video)

Love in the time of cancer: self-esteem, intimacy, sexuality after an ovarian cancer diagnosis
Ovarian Cancer Australia (AUS, 2018)
Although this webinar is aimed at women with ovarian cancer, it is also relevant to women diagnosed with other types of cancer. Dr Haryana Dhillon is joined by Nadia and Maureen who have each had a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in the past. They discuss challenges around relationships, body image and self esteem, and the impact these can have on quality of life following diagnosis. They emphasise that you are not alone, and help is available for you as an individual or as a couple. (Scroll down the Ovarian Cancer Australia webinar page to find this webinar.)
 (webinar)

Relationships and sex
Macmillan Cancer Support (UK)
Information on dealing with changes to relationships and intimacy following cancer diagnosis and treatment. Includes a video of a sexual therapist discussing sexual problems following cancer. Remember that as this is a UK-based website support information is not available to Australians.
  (web with link to video)

Sex life and pelvic radiotherapy
Macmillan Cancer Support (UK)
Explanation of the short-term effects that might be experienced by some people following radiotherapy treatment to their pelvic region. Please remember that as this is a UK-based website, the support links are not available to Australians.
 (web)

Effects of treatment on a woman’s sex life
Macmillan Cancer Support (UK)
Links to information the effects of various cancer treatment on a woman’s sex life. Includes a video of a sexual therapist explaining lubricants, dilators and vibrators that can be used to manage these effects. Remember that as this is a UK-based website support services and products may not be available to Australians.
  (web with link to video)

Relationships: challenges for partners
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (AUS, 2013)
Partners of women with gynaecological cancer explain how they have managed changes to their relationship since the cancer diagnosis and treatment. Also includes comments from gynaecological cancer nurse and social worker. YouTube sometimes suggests other videos on similar topics. Please be aware that those videos have not been reviewed for the Navigator and may not be reputable.
(YouTube video)

Impact of diagnosis on partners
Cancer Australia (AUS)
Short explanation of how a partner might be impacted by the cancer diagnosis and treatment, and why counselling might be valuable for them too.
(web)


Last Updated: 21 January, 2020 8:48 am