Re-exploring Intimacy After a Mastectomy
Let's talk about sex and intimacy. Having a mastectomy due to a cancer diagnosis or preventative action means you're going to have to re-explore your body and what it means to be intimate with someone. Your body is going to undergo a drastic change when you have a mastectomy and it's okay to wonder how that's going to impact every aspect of your life, including your intimate life.
Changes with a partner
If you're in a relationship, it's normal to have concerns about how your partner will respond to the changes in your body. Chances are, they're still going to find you as attractive as before your procedure. But it's not out of the ordinary to have insecurities arise while you get used to the new you. Don't beat yourself up for going through this.
Give yourself the time and grace you need to get used to your new look. You may be insecure at first, but the more you live with your new body the more you will begin to see how beautiful and healthy it is. As your insecurities melt away over time, your confidence will skyrocket brining along a new sense of attraction and intimate confidence.
While this happens, it's more important than ever to communicate with your partner about how you're feeling, and what they can do to support you while you regain your confidence and security in your body. Give them clear examples like, "it makes me feel attractive when you tell me I look nice. That helps me feel more secure about what I'm going through."
If you find you're having trouble getting to a point where you feel secure with your scars and new shape, or your partner isn't being supportive, it might be worth speaking with a professional about how you can breach this new territory in a healthy way.
- Allow yourself to heal emotionally
- Be open and honest about what you need from your partner
- Speak with a professional if you're having trouble accepting your new shape or your partner is unsupportive
Dating after a mastectomy
Let's be honest. Dating new people can be awkward and intimidating for anyone. Throw in needing to have a discussion about what things are going to be like when you get to a point of physical intimacy after a mastectomy and you have a whole new level of complexity.
Luckily, as you begin to get close with someone, a discussion about your past is almost inevitable. This should give you an easy avenue to bring up your surgery and breach the topic to set expectations. It's important that you discuss this topic only when you feel comfortable doing so. For some women, this could be on the first date. For others, it could be later on when you get to a point of mutual trust. Follow your gut, and know that any person who has an issue with you pursing a healthy and vibrant life doesn't deserve a place in your life in the first place.
- Breach the topic only when you're ready
- Be honest and straightforward about what they can expect
- Know that anyone worth being in your life will have no concerns with your scars or shape
- Speak with a professional if you're feeling anxious about dating after your procedure
Feeling and touch after a mastectomy
Most people know that the chest and nipple areas are highly sensitive and often a source of pleasure during intimate time. One of the downsides of undergoing a mastectomy is that you will lose most feeling in these areas and, in some cases, lose the nipple entirely.
While this is an unfortunate part of the process, it creates a great opportunity to explore new ways to connect with your partner. Over time, you may begin to regain some of the feeling in your chest area, but the majority of the nerve pain will likely be permanent.
It's up to you to decide if you'd like your partner to continue to focus on the chest area during your time together. For some women, attention to their chest can serve as reassurance that their partner still loves their new shape, while for others it's preferred to focus on other areas that bring more excitement. Take the time you need to explore and test so you can decide what works best for you and your partner with your new body.
- You may lose most feeling in your chest
- Decide if you want your partner to focus on your chest, or new areas
- Try new things so you can find out what intimacy looks like for you post-op
At the end of the day, only you know what works for you and your body. Be sure to communicate, give yourself the time you need to heal (both physically and emotionally), and don't be afraid to talk to someone if you're having trouble getting back to a point of self-confidence. You've undergone a massive hurdle in your life, and it's important to remember that people cope and adjust at different speeds.
Keep your head up and know that you're beautiful and deserving of everything you want in life.