A Women’s Workshop of Warriors
Last Saturday was our first Sexual Health After Cancer Workshop at Rehab Specialists Physical Therapy Treatment Center co-hosted by Dr. Shannon Chavez and Jenni Rai, physical therapist and certified lymphedema specialist based in Beverly Hills. An intimate group of women gathered on a Saturday afternoon to talk about sexuality, sex after cancer treatment, and hold space while exploring sexual health from a mind-body approach.
What is a mind-body approach to sexual health after cancer?
Cancer affects every aspect of your being. Healing from cancer treatment starts with addressing both the mental and physical changes that impact sexual health.
Cancer treatment causes both physical and mental changes that impact body image, mood, and sexuality.
Sexual health is more than what we do sexually. Many of my clients report that they were not prepared to deal with the sexual changes that occur after cancer treatment. Fortunately, there are many ways women can address these changes and experience a healthy, intimate sex life after cancer treatment.
The first changes a woman will experience after cancer treatment is how her body responds to arousal and stimulation. These changes are a result of cancer treatment affecting nerve function and blood flow, which are critical components of sexual arousal and pleasure.
When you go through chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, or take cancer-specific medications, it can impact how you feel in your body and may result in a negative body image. It’s important to reconnect with your body after cancer so that you can enjoy sensual and sexual pleasure.
Recommendations to Revive Your Sexuality After Cancer
I recommend that women pamper themselves, get a massage, practice mindfulness, find lingerie that makes them feel sexy, and most importantly, learn what feels good and what kind of touch works best.
Cancer treatment can leave you fatigued and sex may be the last thing on your mind. Prioritize time for bonding and sex will come when the time is right. Focus time on intimacy. It is an important part of healing.
I recommend that couples schedule time for closeness including making eye contact, sensual touch, cuddling and eye gazing. Intimacy does not have to be sexual. Explore new ways to connect with your partner sexually.
Sex After Cancer Workshop Highlights
During this interactive workshop, we learned what really happens to your body after cancer treatment, and discussed the importance of touch and intimacy in relationships and then we had some fun! We got up and danced to music – because, in order to get our libido going, we have to move! Plus, it’s fun to dance with other women. We laughed, grooved, and bonded while we had our dance party break.
Next, each participant picked out of a basket of pleasure devices while we talked about the options for self-massage including multi-sensory vibrators, smart wands, external massagers, couples toys, and clitoral stimulation and massage.
Treatment options presented included vaginal rejuvenation through massage, priming the body with a vibrator, improving body image and sexual awareness through touch and self-discovery, and mindfulness-based exercises to improve arousal and desire.
The best part of workshops are the SWAG bags! All participants received lube and moisturizer samples, brochures and tips for treatment, and other fun goodies. Intimina provided a Kegel smart exerciser and two vibrators for a raffle.
I discussed some of the best, new products out for women's wellness. Most of the participants had never heard of the FC2 female condom. We discussed how it can be a barrier to protect the sensitive tissue in the vagina post-treatment. Participants received information on how to insert and use the female condom and where to purchase.