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Health Information and Tools > Cancer and Sexuality > Sexual Relationships and Cancer >  Sexual Relationships and Cancer: Talking to Your Partner About Sex
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Sexual Relationships and Cancer

Talking to Your Partner About Sex

It’s important to talk to your partner about changes to your body and your feelings about sex. Sexuality can be very hard to talk about. It’s a good idea to set a time to talk. Don’t have this talk in your bedroom when you’re getting ready to have sex. Set aside another time to talk with your partner before you start getting sexual. If you wait until you’re in a sexual moment, your partner may not understand and there can be hurt feelings.

How can I talk to my partner about sex?

Try these questions to help you start a talk with your partner about sex:

  • Is having sex during or after cancer treatment important to us as a couple?
  • How do we feel about our affection (e.g., hugs, kisses, cuddles)? Does either of us want more or less affection?
  • Is it okay if we sometimes have sexual touching, but don’t have intercourse?
  • How do we deal with sexual touching that doesn’t lead to an erection or if it’s too painful to have intercourse?

Couples often assume they know what their partner likes. Perhaps they did before these changes, but now it’s likely the body feels different. What used to feel good may not work the same way anymore. For example, depending on treatments you’ve had, areas of the body that used to be arousing when they were touched (e.g. breasts, testicles) may not feel good anymore.

How can I ask my partner what they like or want?

Here are some ways to ask or tell your partner what you want:

  1. Keep your ideas positive and don’t be critical. Focus on what’s working. For example, instead of saying “that’s too fast”, say “I like it when you move slower”. Or say “What you were doing before was really good, can you do that some more?”

  2. When you feel something you like, tell your partner you like it. That way they know to do it more. For example, “I like it when you touch me like that”, or “mmmm, that feels good”, or, “keep doing that.”

  3. If you can’t explain it in words, show or guide your partner. Put your hand on top of theirs and move it on your body showing them how you’d like to be touched. For example, “Can I show you how I’d like to be touched?” or “What if you touched me like this?”​
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