• Treatment of men versus women

    Asked by abrub on Sunday, September 23, 2018

    Treatment of men versus women

    From people I know in the cancer community, I've found that men are always warned if their sexual function may be compromised by a treatment; women - not so much. For women who have had radiation or other treatment in the urogenital area, did you lose sexual function and were you warned in advance? I know that I was a candidate for vaginal brachytherapy, and the dr told me that side effects would be minimal. I've since learned that most women who have had that treatment lose genital sexual function. I opted out of brachytherapy, because it didn't offer any assurances, but only problems. (PS - my current recurrence would not have been prevented had I chosen the brachytherapy.)

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I have found that most doctors or facilities are not consistent when giving advice or warnings

      9 months ago
    • JaneA's Avatar

      I had 28 pelvic radiation treatments for Stage IV rectal cancer. I developed vaginal stenosis - narrowing and shortening of the vagina - I was advised about it and to use a dilator beginning about 8 weeks after the radiation to keep things stretched. But that's when I had my major rectal cancer surgery, and I was in no condition to do anything.

      I got referred to a pelvic floor physical therapist and regained functionality.

      I don't regret my radiation because I had extensive lymph node involvement. I have been NED for 3 years so the radiation played a positive role in getting me and keeping me NED.

      9 months ago
    • Jayne's Avatar

      I was not warned about sexual implications following radiation treatments. As a precaution, my ovaries were removed during my lower anterior resection and I was thrown into early menopause (I was 45) so it was hard to tell. On the other hand, I was so frightened I could possibly have forgotten. I think there is merit in the statement that there are physical changes to a women's body following radiation to the pelvis, add in the chemo and it's pretty much assured things will change. At 57 I don't know if my changes are normal aging or helped along by longer term damage from the treatments, however I do still have a relatively normal sex life now. I had 30 radiation treatments.

      9 months ago
    • Findley's Avatar

      I had colorectal cancer 26 years ago. I had 30 pelvic radiation treatments along with continuous infusion chemo. None of my doctors (radiologist, oncologist, surgeon, gynecologist) informed me about any damage to my vagina or sexual function. I was only told that I would probably not be able to have children. Unfortunately the radiation severely damaged my pelvic area and made it very difficult to have sex. When my gynecologist finally suggested dilators it was really too late. The damage was done. It's to a point where my gynecologist (new one) has a very difficult time doing a pap smear and a pelvic exam. She does it as quickly as possible because of how painful it is.

      I hope doctors have learned over the past 26 years and are more upfront with their patients about the long term effects of treatments; not just focus on the side effects during treatment.

      Prayers are with you.

      9 months ago
    • lh25's Avatar

      Sounds like I was lucky. My Drs did tell me about possible side effects to my sexuality, and started me on dilators once treatment was done.

      9 months ago
    • LisaR's Avatar

      I was told that "maybe" this would happen, but no advice given on what to do to avoid it, or what to do if it did happen. But, so far so good, my radiation was in the abdomen and probably high enough to not harm that area.

      9 months ago

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