In keeping with our Valentine’s Day theme, we are focusing on sexuality in cancer survivors and previvors. Did you know that there are specialists in this area who can help you (and your partner) to get back in the groove? Here are some tips on vaginal dryness from Sharon Bober, PhD, Director ofthe Sexual Health Program at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.
Vaginal dryness and Painful Sex:
Vaginal dryness and irritation is a common problem that lead to painful sex and when sex hurts, it is no surprise that sexual interest often quickly diminishes. Vaginal dryness needs to be addressed by using both vaginal moisturizers and vaginal lubricants. Moisturizers, such as Hyalo-Gyn or Replens, provide a smooth layer of moisture that adheres to the vaginal tissue. They are used two or more times a week. Vaginal lubricants provide a temporary protective coating and should be used immediately before intercourse. Water-based lubricant without perfumes or other irritants such as Liquid Silk or Slippery Stuff are best. Glycerin-based lubricants can promote yeast infections in some women and petroleum-based lubricants can damage condoms.
After cancer, it is important to take the time to re-connect with your body and figure out what feels pleasurable and what doesn’t. It is not uncommon to find that what used to work is different now. Some women find that using either self-touch or a vibrator can helpful for not only discovering pleasurable sensation but also for increasing blood flowing to vaginal tissue which is vital for maintaining good vaginal health.
Other tips for dealing with painful sex:
- Plan ahead for the time of day when pain is lowest and you have more energy.
- Change your position! Try different positions that may be more comfortable.
- If you are using pain meds, take them about an hour prior sexual activity.
Hear more tips in our podcast interview with Dr. Bober.