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Recurrent fissure developed 3 years after treatment

Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2012

Hoping some long term survivors out there will have some insight on this. I completed treatment 3 years ago for stage 3 anal cancer. I was fortunate that the sexual side effects of treatment did not last very long and I've had a normal sex life for the past few years.

However, a few months ago I developed a fissure at the opening of my vagina that is not healing. It goes away if I abstain from intercourse, but then it comes back as soon as I become sexually active again.

My gyn thinks the problem hormonal, so he changed my HRT to bio-identical hormones and added vaginal estrogen cream. I've been on these new hormones for about a month, but I don't think it's helping very much. I've gone as long as 2 weeks without intercourse, but when I resumed I could feel the stretching/tearing and the fissure came back right away.

I know the hormones could take a couple of months to fully take effect, but I'm wondering if the real problem is radiation damage. Has anyone had this type of problem suddenly arise a few years after treatment? An if it is radiation damage, is there a way to cure it? I'm also wondering if the abstinence could be doing more harm than good if we still need to be keeping everything supple to prevent vaginal shrinking and scarring. Or is that only important in the first several months after treatment?

mp327's picture
Posts: 4169
Joined: Jan 2010

I am someone who you might consider a long-term survivor of this disease, as I am over 4 years out. I have not had an issue with a vaginal fissure. Even after 4 years, I am still pretty diligent about using a vaginal dilator several times a week, but I must say my sex life has suffered greatly post-treatment. I use Vagifem, which is a vaginal tablet inserted twice weekly. I used to use the cream, but found it quite messy and not very helpful. My one suggestion for you would be to consult a gyno oncologist who may be more familiar with issues facing women who have had pelvic radiation. I'm sure you can blame the radiation for your issues--it is the gift that keeps on giving. I wish you all the best.

Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2012

The gyno oncologist is a very good suggestion - I will try that!

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