Body image and sexuality after treatment for endometrial cancer

The view you have about your body—your body image—is very important. It is normal to experience anger, frustration, or disappointment following cancer surgery or during cancer treatment. You may view your body differently following surgical treatment for endometrial cancer because you will no longer have a uterus.

Physical factors

Physical factors that may affect a woman’s sexuality include the general pain, fatigue, and discomfort that can occur following cancer treatment, as well as damage to or removal of nerves, blood vessels, or organs from the growth of the cancer or from treatments to remove the cancer. Pain during intercourse stemming from changes in the vagina can be caused by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormonal therapy.

Psychological factors

Psychological factors may include depression, confusion, anxiety, guilt, and stress caused by the diagnosis of cancer and changes in your body image following surgery and treatment for cancer. These psychological factors are often most troublesome after the completion of treatment. Depression or a sense of altered body image may be an underlying factor if you experience a reduction in sexual pleasure or lose your desire to be sexually intimate after cancer treatment.

People recovering from cancer often feel anxious or guilty that previous sexual activities may have caused their cancer or that further sexual activity could cause the cancer to return or could pass the cancer to their partner. There is no evidence that previous sexual activity can cause endometrial cancer or that cancer can be transmitted from one person to another.

The stress of being diagnosed with cancer and the treatment that follows may cause stress in other areas of your life, including interpersonal relationships. These stresses can create tension that may be exhibited as problems within the sexual relationship. Women without partners often stop dating altogether because they feel they might be rejected by a potential partner because of their history of cancer.

Discussing your concerns

Discuss your concerns about sexuality and your body with your doctor, counselor, or other health professional. Contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society to help you find a support group; talking with other people who may have had similar feelings can be very helpful.

Last Updated: November 26, 2008

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