One out of three women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during her lifetime.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, educate yourself on the best ways to stay on top of breast health. Learn how to do a breast self-exam and schedule a routine exam with your doctor. This way you catch cancer early and treat it successfully.

The average 10-year survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 84%. In the last 30 years, the number of women who have died from breast cancer has gone down by 41% and we’re still making strides with new treatments.

Undoubtedly, surviving cancer will often change a woman’s personal outlook on life. After surgery, radiation or other medical treatments— just when it’s time to start enjoying life to its fullest again, sexually speaking— the majority of women may face a drained mojo or sexual desire. Some women will develop a lack of sexual confidence and maybe even experience some difficulty with arousal or reaching orgasm. More than 90 percent of cancer patients complain of some sort of sexual side effects relating to their treatment. Experiencing these sexual concerns, whether in solitude or silence is far from uncommon.

For women who have had cancer, re-establishing closeness and intimacy may feel like another uphill battle but there are some steps you can take to get your “sexy back”.

Stay Educated

Women are often not given the information they need. Many are suffering in silence, believing that the pain and body changes that they’re experiencing are a normal part of aging and that they just need to grin and bear it. The reality is there are a lot of safe and effective therapies that can be done to remedy the situation.

Find the strength to break the silence about your need for sexual satisfaction. Bridging the communication gap with yourself and a partner are critical steps to regaining control of your sexual self. It may begin with a heart-to-heart conversation with your partner— fearlessly but openly disclosing your concerns, apprehensions, and finding new ways to reconnect sexually as a couple. New may even mean more exciting!

Whether you’re experiencing negative body image, loss of libido, the early stages of menopause, or severe mood changes due to hormonal imbalances, there are trained professionals that deal with sexuality and cancer. Do not be afraid to seek help. Reaching out to a sexual medicine specialist or finding a committed sexual counselor is another way to help restore your sexual confidence. These professionals often have some suggestions or can suggest some simple solutions. Specialized programs like Look Good, Feel Better sanctioned by the American Cancer Society can also provide support and help you start feeling better about your body post cancer.

Become Empowered

Your body has changed. It’s true that you may not look or feel the same, but surviving is thriving. There are some novel solutions which may be helpful depending on your concerns. From surgical reconstruction to life like breast/bra inserts, nipple, and scar tattooing to sexy cancer specific clothing, there are products available that can help you reclaim your sexual self-esteem.

Sometimes small interventions such as cancer specific appliances can help a woman feel whole again. Believe it or not, there is even specifically designed lingerie for women who have had breast or colon cancer.  Are you suffering from hand edema and troubled by the constant boring sleeve?  Try new lymph arm bands that are made from colorful prints and have sexy vibrant patterns.

If vaginal dryness is a problem, a simple solution like adding a personal lubricant to your daily routine can often help. If your mojo had turned into a “nojo.” then try experimenting with enhancement creams and some new toys in the bedroom. There even are non-hormonal medications specifically approved for the treatment of lowered sexual interest and they may be right for you.

It is true that cancer changes everything, but you’re too sexy for cancer and too empowered to let this glitch rob you of the sexual vitality you know and deserve.  Stay informed, get help and know you are not alone.

Michael Krychman
Michael L. Krychman, MDCM, is the Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine located in Newport Beach California. He is the former Co Director of The Sexual Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer. He also is a clinical sexologist and has completed his Masters in Public Health and Human Sexuality. Dr Krychman has a degree in Erotology, Sexual Education and Forensic Sexology. Dr Krychman is also an AASECT certified sexual counselor. He is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California Irvine, Division of Gynecological Oncology and the Medical Director of Ann’s Clinic, a high-risk program for Breast and Ovarian Cancer Survivors.

His special interests include menopausal health, hormone therapy, sexual pain disorders, and loss of libido, chronic medical illness and medical devices and their impact on female sexual function. He is a well-known speaker who is featured locally, nationally and internationally. He has published many articles in peer-reviewed journals and has been featured in many scientific journals and lay magazines. Dr Krychman is an active reviewer for the Journal of Sexual Medicine. He was the Scientific Chairman for the 2010 International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health annual educational meeting. He is an active member in good standing in North American Menopause (NAMS), International Society sexual Medicine (ISSM), European Society Sexual Medicine (ESSM), International Society Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), American Society of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). He was a member of the Standard Committee for ISSM and has been a guest professor at the ESSM Sexual Medicine Summer School in Oxford, England. He was the creator of the recent WISH Initiative (Women’ Initiative on Sexual Health: and the 2013 recipient of the WISH Outstanding Achievement award given by the ISSWSH. He is also on the professional advisory board for the Patty Brisben Foundation.

Dr. Krychman’s has published 7 books including his most recent one: The Sexual Spark, 20 Essential Exercises to Reignite the Passion, 100 Questions & Answers for Women Living with Cancer: A Practical Guide to Female Cancer Survivorship has been recently published, 100 Questions and Answers about Women’s Sexual Wellness and Vitality and Breast cancer Sexuality, Sensuality and Intimacy. He has been featured on the Today show and in the New York Times and US News and World Report World Report, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Health Magazine and many others. He was named one of Orange County Top Doctors for 2015 and 2016 in Menopause, Sexual Dysfunction and Vulvar Pain. In 2019 and again in 2020, he has been named an Orange County Physician of Excellence by Orange Coast Magazine in Survivorship, Sexual Medicine and Menopause.