From the first moment I found out I was having a hysterectomy, I was concerned about how it would affect having sex with my boyfriend: would I still want to? Would it feel different to me? To him?
When I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, the first thing the doctor told me was to stop taking my bio-identical hormones. That has played havoc with my mood and plunged me into menopausal symptoms. Not sleeping, hot flashing, and being depressed are not conducive to feeling sexy. Plus, one of the components of the hormone mix I was taking was testosterone, and I know that’s related to libido, so I was concerned. I asked my oncologist at my one-month checkup if I could start taking them again and he said no because the cancer I had was estrogen-sensitive and the hormones could make it more likely to recur. I wasn’t entirely convinced of that, so I called the holistic doctor who originally prescribed them. I was SO bummed when he agreed with my oncologist.
After a total hysterectomy, you can’t have sex for 6-8 weeks. That worked out okay because I wasn’t going to be seeing the BF for seven weeks. When we first got naked, our only objective was to get it in, literally. We were very nervous. LOTS of lube (my doctor recommended Astroglide versus KY) and taking it slow brought success. It was very uncomfortable and I had some bleeding afterwards. The doctor’s office said that was normal. We tried again later that day and it was a little better. Then we took a day off.
On day three, we had a great experience! We still went slowly and didn’t go for long, and some positions hurt, but everything worked. I was even able to relax enough to see fireworks–yay!
I hadn’t realized that I’d been metaphorically holding my breath for two months until that happened. Sex is very important to both of us, and I didn’t know how it would play out if we couldn’t do it. I’ve known women who gave up that part of their marriages because it was too painful. And while there are ways to have a sexual relationship without intercourse, that act brought a level of connection between us that we didn’t get anywhere else.
I even had a thought that I would break up with the BF if we couldn’t, because it “wouldn’t be fair to him.” He called bullshit on that because as he reminded me, I don’t get to decide what’s fair for him. He spent a lot of time thinking about it, too, and came to the conclusion that what was the most important to him was that deepest level of connection. Then he said it’s not acceptable that we only have one way to get there, and we have to find some more.
I’m so grateful we had that conversation, because it showed us that open-hearted connection is the most important thing in our relationship to both of us. Having that connection makes whatever we face together just something to work out.
So today I say, “Thank you, cancer,” because it gave us the opportunity to open up our hearts even more to each other. I don’t recommend it as a pathway to discussion, but we made the best of it.