What Is Cervical Cancer
The lower portion of the uterus that attaches to the vagina, or the cervix, is where the cells of cervical cancer development. Most cervical cancers are brought on by long-lasting infection by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). Like all cancers, cervical cancer can have a significant impact on, and implications for, patients’ lives. Patients will also have to live with the impact of cervical cancer on sexuality and fertility.
Physical Impact Of Cervical Cancer On A Patient’s Fertility And Sexuality
Besides common side-effects of cancer treatment, treatment for cervical cancer may in addition affect a patient’s sexuality and fertility.
Depending on the specific treatment(s) received, a patient may experience the following in relation to long term impact to her sexuality and fertility:
If a patient undergoes a radical trachelectomy, most of the cervix and the upper part of the vagina will be removed. The womb is not removed. Conception is still a possibility after this procedure, but the probability of success is lower, and there is also a higher risk of complications.
The ovaries will stop producing estrogen if they have been damaged by surgery or radiation treatment. In some circumstance, the surgeon may need to remove the ovaries entirely. Pregnancy after ovarian removal is still possible if eggs were frozen prior to ovarian removal, or if done through egg donors and IVF procedures.
The vagina may become extremely dry as a result of treatment, and it might not be able to easily expand during sexual activity. Vaginal tissue can become less elastic and shrink because of radiation therapy to the pelvic region, which will constrict the vagina.
If the patient needs to undergo radical hysterectomy, the womb will be removed.
Dealing With Emotional Impact
It is normal for the patient to feel anxious or overwhelmed if she has intentions to try for a baby in the future but is diagnosed with cervical cancer. The patient may thus feel forced to decide between acting in a way that seems to be best for her own health, and one that could be best for maintaining her fertility.
Because every person’s circumstances are unique, the patient must educate herself on her choices and decide what is best for you considering them. Speaking with a doctor that she can rely on can be beneficial.
Impact On Sense Of Sexuality
The patient’s sense of sexuality can be impacted by cervical cancer in both physical and psychological ways. The results of these changes depend on a variety of factors, including the patient’s overall self-confidence, the patient’s partner, and the treatment and its side effects.
Throughout and after cancer treatment, it is common to experience a lack of interest in sex. This might be because of anxiety over having cancer and having to deal with its adverse effects. Patients can inform their spouse if they do not feel like having sex, or if it makes her uncomfortable.
Coping With Cervical Cancer
Empowering Herself With Knowledge
If the patient is knowledgeable about her cancer and its treatment options, she may find it easier to manage and make decisions. She can thus prepare herself by deepening her knowledge about her condition. It can be challenging to process information, particularly when she has recently received the diagnosis. Before she sees her doctor, she can write down a list of questions to clarify with the doctor. She can also bring a companion who can help to remind her on her questions. They may also aid in her memory of the information presented to her. Being inundated with a lot of fresh information might be stressful and overwhelming.
Talking To Other People
The patient can get support and assistance by discussing her condition with friends and family. However, other people may not want to talk about it because they are afraid of the emotions it can elicit. They might be concerned that she would not be able to handle her circumstances, or be worried that they might say anything inappropriate. If the patient’s relatives or friends will not talk to her, it may cause tension in their relationships. Conversely, talking to them might assist in building the patient’s relationship with them and strengthen their support for her in her fight against cancer.
Cancer Helplines And Support Groups
Patients or caregivers may at times need support in dealing with cancer. The Agency for Integrated Care has a listing of support groups and helplines from which patients / caregivers can seek assistance.
Further Reading On Cervical Cancer
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.