Nasopharyngeal cancer and sex | Cancer Research UK
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Nasopharyngeal cancer and sex

Men and women discussing nasopharyngeal cancer

This page contains information about coping with nasopharyngeal cancer and sex. Coping with nasopharyngeal cancer and the changes to your body can affect how you feel about sex.

The most likely symptom that can affect your sex life is tiredness or fatigue. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments both cause fatigue and it’s not uncommon for this fatigue to last for months after treatment. Other reasons for feeling tired might be because your thyroid hormone levels are low. Your doctor will check to see how your thyroid gland is working at your follow up appointments. They will also check to see if treatment has affected your pituitary gland, which can cause tiredness, low mood and a decreased interest in sex.

Surgery for nasopharyngeal cancer may change the way you look. Any changes in the way you look after surgery may make you feel less confident about sex. Modern surgical techniques and reconstructive surgery means that you are less likely to have much scarring, even with very big operations. Unfortunately if you do have scarring, it can be distressing and affect the way you feel about yourself, and how you think others might see you. If your sight has been affected, you will need to rely on touch a great deal during intimate relationships. 

If your feelings about having sex change during or after your cancer treatment, it doesn’t mean that it will last forever. If you are able to talk to your partner about your worries, you will both gradually get used to your new situation and things will feel less awkward. A caring and loving partner can help to ease your concerns. You may also find it helpful to talk to your doctor or nurse about how you are feeling. They may suggest that you and your partner have some counselling or see a sex therapist for further support.

We have more information about sex after cancer in the main coping with cancer section.

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Updated: 2 September 2014