Intimacy following reconstruction

techgirl Member Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1

I would really like the straight talk about sex and intimacy following reconstruction. I'm really going back and forth between having a unilateral vs. a bilateral mastectomy. I will have delayed reconstruction because of radiation treatments. My husband is 100% fabulous and has told me that he loves me (every part). He is so wonderful. I know that my hang-ups with sex and surgery aftermath are mine and not his. So, I guess I just need some help with knowing what to expect. I know that one loses most sensation in the chest area and there will be some pain following the initial surgery. But, what else can I expect? Thank you for your responses.


  • Jadie
    Jadie Member Posts: 723
    Hi Tech

    I had reconstruction/reduction. I had to use ice packs and sleep elevated for 3 days following surgery. Very uncomfortable for several days. My breast are mostly numb. I believe you said that you were considering tram flap. I'm sure that surgery is worse than what I had. I'm not trying to scare you but just want to be honest.

    The chemo certainlly caused vaginal dryness. This can cause pain during intercourse. Don't let this be a problem for you because if it hurts you will likely find yourself avoiding intamacy. There are good meds for this. If its a problem talk to your doctor about it. Sounds like you have a very wonderful and understanding husband. Talk to him and be open and honest about it. He will understand more than you think.

    I am sure that someone who has had tram flap will chime in and help you more than I can. Good luck with everything. Wish I could help you more.
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    I "only" had a lumpectomy and lymphnode I "only" have a scarred, dented breast, and a numb upperarm! I have always had sentitive breasts, and even a monthy breast exam was cause for discomfort for me even Pre cancer. My affected breast is now more tender than previously.

    That having been said, sex and intimacy were and are a part of my recovery process! I absolutley felt like damaged goods, and chemo with its resultant baldness did not help that situation at all! I too have a wonderful man in my life, who still wanted and loved me! I know he was very afraid of hurting me, and the best way I can describe our post-surgery relationship is that I became somewhat "virginal" again. Not that my sexual odomoter got set back to zero, but I felt fragile, and having sex was going to be a new experience for both of us. Does that make any sense at all??? I sure hope so!

    Without being graphic AT ALL, let me just say that "spooning" was a nice way to relieved any pressure on my chest area, and the intimacy (even when NOT having sex) of this cuddle was so appreciated. I knew he did not find me unattractive, and I felt protected, physically and emotionally.

    If you and your husband communicate well, and you can express your concerns, I feel sure you will work through them to a successful conclusion.

    Much love and luck to you!

  • seof
    seof Member Posts: 819 Member
    I agree that the important thing is open and honest communication. We have always tried to keep each other informed of how we are feeling. I was a virgin on our honeymoon (he wasn't), but through a lot of talking and experimenting we learned what we like.We have had to adapt and change over the years; after pregnancies, as we have both gained weight, when either of us is sick or tired, and now, after bilateral mastectomy. I have tissue expanders in until I can do reconstruction (after recovery from radiation, about 12 months). They feel unnaturally firm, and the skin is numb. He still seems to enjoy the breast, even with the new feel and the scars and no nipples. I don't have much sensetivity, but it does not hurt, so he does what he wants. I have not had vaginal dryness with the chemo, so that area has not changed. We did take a break while I had pain and drains and immobility from the mastectomy (6-8 weeks). My baldness doesn't seem to bother him. He shaved his head to show support, so we are both white bowling balls. We both enjoy cuddling time more lately. I think that is partly because of the psychological stress of dealing with cancer...sometimes it's good to just relax and feel warm and protected.

    It sounds like you and your husband have an intimate, mutually supportive relationship. Just keep on loving each other in all ways, and you should be fine.

    best wishes, seof
  • RE
    RE Member Posts: 4,591 Member
    Hello Tech,

    Well I have not had reconstruction, however I have had a lumpecotomy with node disection on one side and a total mastsectomy on the other side. None of this has damaged our sex life. I too was a bit tentative when I had the mastsectomy, but my husband simply did not care. He made it clear he loved me not my breast and that made it easier to move forward. He is supportive and we communicate exactly how we feel so as not to cause a tough situation to become a difficult one. My mastectomy was one year ago and as of right now I have not decided whether to do reconstruction or not. I do have quite a bit of sensation where my breast was, it is just scared quite a bit because I was big breasted. It really sounds like you have a caring and supportive husband who is going to love you no matter what. I will keep you in my prayers. Hugs to you.

  • This may seem strange, but I don't mind the way I look with one breast. The removed breast doesn't look like anything scary or ugly - its just not there. I will probably have recon. after my rads just because it is available. Consider checking with a GOOD plastic surgeon before your surgery, you may want expanders put in before rads, during the mast. I have heard lots of views on this and still haven't found a trusted source in the medical field on this issue. I think that by accepting my body I am more able to believe that my husband does also. My favorite way to consider my self is that little girl Joyce (with no breasts) is back, on one side. I hope you find happiness, beauty, and good times. love, Joyce
  • survivor51
    survivor51 Member Posts: 276
    Hey Sweetie,
    I had a bilateral and reconstruction witht he flap. Once the expanders are out, it is so much better. Both my breast are soft and look really good. My husband was in the shower and reached around then said "they feel like You". They move and feel good. I have not have the nipple reconstruction. I am starting to get feeling back into both breast after a year. I do have feeling between the breast and my husband is great with my changes. It does take time to get back into being comfortable with being naked and intimate. It was uncomfortable with him on top because the pressure of his body and being flat on my back. It is easier with me on top but we have found that putting a pillow under my back is better. For some reason being flat on my back is distracting and uncomfortable. They took the muscle from the back. As time goes on, it gets better and better. The biggest obstacle was me and my mind. I was the one that felt odd, he was fantastic and very patient. They do make many lubricants that help with the other dryness. As you finish treatment, it gets better. I found that even when I was not at my best, it made me feel better just "taking" care of his needs. Be kind to yourself, cuddling is great, enjoy showers (at first I had the lights out) and now it is not a problem. Take care and give yourself time.
  • techgirl
    techgirl Member Posts: 6
    Thank you, ladies, so much for your replies to this sensitive subject matter! I do know that it will probably take a little time, but my husband is very patient. I know he will love me always no matter what, and that is very comforting to me! You all are fabulous.