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brachytherapy and sex

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2005

Chapter one. Feel free to read my more complete history. I had a complete hysterectomy in February '05. I had three internal high dose radiation treatments in April as follow-up. Although I found the radiation treatments intrusive and uncomfortable, they were not actually painful, and I seemed to have very few lasting side effects. I was given a plastic vaginal dilator and told to use it three times per week (for the rest of my life) and sent on my way. I understand the reason for the dilator is that the radiated part of your vagina undergoes structual damage and kind of shrinks together. It also becomes less elastic.

Chapter two. My husband and I have been at least minimally sexually active during most of the last six months. Blessedly, interest and arousal don't seem to be problems for me. Even lubrication still seems fine. But we had not tried actual intercourse since the radiation treatments (tenderness plus other unrelated circumstances) and I was really distressed to find that it actually hurt when we tried it. This seems due to a more limited vagina--either the sheer length or its elasticity, or both. My husband and I are patient and flexible, but this is so discouraging after all the trauma of the last six months. I want to feel hopeful. Has anyone experienced this and what have you done and how has it turned out?

(I'm willing to hear any story, but if you are going to tell me my sex life is at an end, refrain . . . )

Nanz1's picture
Posts: 12
Joined: Nov 2004

I also had brachytherapy. I read your message a long time ago but was hesitant to write back because I didn't want to stress you in any way. But I realize that I have positive things to say to you. Now..... I am in my 50's and had total pelvic radition as well as internal so anyway. I can say that there was a time when sex hurt some but that time passed. I think the good news is the more frequent (and gentle at first), the better. It gets better not worse. Your sex life is not over. I bet that by the time you read this, you will already know that.


Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2005

I too had pain at first, but with consideration and gentleness on my husband's part, the pain gradually went away and now I don't have a problem.

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2015

I am glad I decided to check out the blog. I am a nurse and was diagnosed in Dec. 2014 w/ cervical cancer. My Pet was neg and labs neg. I decided on surgery as I am a 52yo and plan to have a long and enjoyable sex life. After surgery everything they said looked good. But...for the reason I do not gamble, my path reports came back w/ angiolymphatic invation. Lymphs were neg. Unfortunately my grade was 2 and this left me with being on the boarder of treat further or take a 30% chance of recurrence. So today I started rad treatment. I felt I could live with the short term uncomfortable repercussions of the treatment BUT I am more concerned w/ my quality of life. That being said my husband and I have the best sex life and now I am really worried that I won't have fun anymore. As a nurse I want to think on prevenssion of stenosis and the like. I am having difficulty getting that info from the docs. Ya put on the aloevera jell and the aquaphor but what about the inside of my vag what can I do to keep it in shape,moist and less at risk of stenosis and long term problems? If there is one thing that makes life worth living that is being able to still have a sex life. It was good to here that you and others did not have long term problems. Can you give me some time frames in which you started rehab and how long it took. Do you still use a dilator or just sex? Thanks!

NoTimeForCancer's picture
Posts: 689
Joined: Mar 2013

I am sorry that you have had to find this support group at all, but it is a good place.  The general gyn board can be a little quite, and while I am a uterine cancer girl, below the belt cancer survivors do hang together and we jump among those boards.

In addition to this site, you may want to try National Cervical Cancer Coalition http://www.inspire.com/groups/national-cervical-cancer-coalition/ You have to sign up for it like this one, but you will be welcome with open arms there too.

There are different size dialators.  I was given a medium and doing fine, about 6 months ago the gyn onc suggested I get the large too.  Wow.  That...was diffiucult...but I was able to get it and continue to use it.  I will tell you to use it DAILY too, not just 3 times a week. 

You are lucky to have a loving husband.  I am single and saying you had uterine cancer causes people to run the other way.

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