Did you know that along with golden leaves and orange pumpkins, the month of October also brings pink ribbons? October dedicates 31 days to promoting breast cancer screening, raising money for organizations and encouraging people to make healthier choices in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With over 280,000 cases of breast cancer in the United States, there are over 2 ½ million survivors of breast cancer (www.cancer.org). Going through cancer can be incredibly traumatic and is bound to have affects on all aspects of one’s life including between the sheets. According to the National Cancer Institute, about one out of every two women who have undergone breast cancer treatment experiences long-term sexual dysfunction.
Undergoing extensive treatment from surgery to medication or radiation can be detrimental to your sexiness. Stress, anxiety, changes in body image, side effects of treatment, pain, hormone fluctuations and even depression can negatively affect your libido. However, the good news is that you can heal and regain your sexual health. With the understanding that each individual is different, here are 10 steps to help get your sexy back.
#1. Reach Out
Different people may experience varying levels of physical, mental and social anguish, but it is important to remember that there is hope. If you have a lack of desire from a hormone imbalance, or issues with body image or just a lack of support and understanding, it may contribute to social withdrawal, canceling plans with friends, shying away from family functions, etc. Reaching out is key to improving the whole person on the inside and the outside.
#2. Define Your True Self
The first step in improving relationships with others is to take an inward look at yourself to build self-confidence and self-esteem. If you’re single and not dating anyone special, there’s no need to share your medical history or disclose your cancer. Be sure to let your date see all of your healthy qualities, fun attributes and fabulous personality. Then see if there is any relationship possibility before you disclose your prognosis, as you do not want to define yourself by your physical condition.
#3. Feel Heard
The best way to clear feelings of fear, guilt, insecurity or even neglect is through open and honest communication. I know it’s not always easy to ask for what you want; so one way to start is to ask for little things like a hug. Then let your partner know where you are at emotionally by telling them explicitly with no holds-barred honesty. One of the fundamentals to accessing your sexiness and letting go of inhibitions is feeling heard. Provide open communication about your needs to help make you feel sexy again, even if it is just patience!
#4. Monitor Your Libido
It’s a fact that some medications and treatments that help to fight cancer have side effects that can diminish your libido. By monitoring what time of day or night you feel most energetic or more relaxed can help you tap into your own comfort level with regards to romance or sexuality. A vital part of getting your sexy back is to know yourself so that you can better share that inner sexpot with your partner.
#5. Laugh Your Way to Health
Humor and playfulness with friends, family, dates or lovers can trigger positive thoughts and emotional connections. Laughter is also a powerful remedy for pain, stress, depression and whatever ails you as it releases feel good hormones and prompts healthy changes in the body. Watch comedies on TV, at the movies or share jokes and funny stories to experience the healing power of laughter as it improves your mental, emotional and physical health.
#6. Build Your Strength
Physical exercises can help to reduce the risk of breast cancer and help people to feel better while going through cancer treatments. A balance of aerobic, strength training, stretching is important, but always check with your doctor before undergoing any strenuous exercise regiment. Do your Kegel exercises regularly, but especially right before sexual intercourse to get the blood flowing to your sexual organs and strengthen the vaginal muscles.
#7. Create Your Own Shangri-La
Remove yourself from reality and create your own sensory escapism like Shangri-La, a place of paradise and bliss. Light the bathroom with candles, put on soothing music, and fill the tub with bubbles and warm water. Enjoy the way you feel. Release yourself from negative thoughts and worries. Focus on the delight of eating some of your favorite foods such as chocolates or ice cream and get into a sexy state of mind by enhancing all five of your senses. Surrender to the pleasures of your own personal Shangri-La.
#8. Connect Through Healing Touch
Perhaps it’s one of life’s challenges that will make you stronger as an individual and potentially draw you and your partner closer as a couple. Especially during trying times, couples need to communicate their needs, so tell your partner that a healing massage would be a great way to relieve tension, improve blood circulation and relax your mind and body. Tell him or her the places you would like to be massaged the most. Massage is a mutually satisfying way of helping couples to exhibit intimacy for one another. It is a precious gift that you can give to your partner when they need it most.
#9. Use Enhancers and Enablers
Jasmine, rosemary, and sage are said to increase arousal when rubbed on the skin. Applying them to erogenous zones like the neck and to stress-carrying areas like the back, lower tension can stir sensuous feelings. For intimate dryness, be sure to have some lubricant ready to make sexual intercourse more comfortable and reduce friction or discomfort. Lubricants can also enhance masturbation for a smoother, silkier and wetter solo-sexual experience.
#10. Practice Brain Sex
The brain is the largest sex organ in the body. If you maintain optimistic thinking, the other sexual parts of your being will organize themselves to stay within your cognitive powers. Sexiness encompasses much more than intercourse. As mentioned above, communication, laughter, setting the mood, healing touch, giving yourself permission to surrender and getting yourself into a juicy state of mind are all key elements to getting your sexy back.