Resources for Patients

Your Sexual Health And Cancer Informational Brochure

For Men

Male Sexual Response

Normal Sexual Response and Definitions of Sexual Dysfunction for Men

How a man responds sexually, depends on a number of factors which may include his:

  • health
  • past experiences
  • attitudes related to sexuality
  • relationship with his partner

As a man you can learn a great deal about your body and its sexual response by taking the time to explore how you respond to various kinds of touch and stimulation. Trust your feelings. Having too many expectations about how you should feel may prevent you from being aware of how you actually do feel. Paying close attention to your feelings and sensations can help you talk to your partner and possibly increase sexual enjoyment for both of you.

What is male sexual response?

Sexual response in men generally follows a fairly consistent pattern, which may vary from person to person and in the same person depending on whom he is with, the situation he is in and what else is going on in his life. The physical part of sex cannot be separated from thoughts, feelings, and reactions. For men, a sexual response occurs when there is some form of sexual stimulation, which can include touch, smell, looking at someone or something, a thought or fantasy that provokes certain physical changes to start happening.

With sexual stimulation, the penis will become larger and begin to get hard. When the penis is in its soft state, there is an equal amount of blood coming in and going out through the blood vessels (arteries and veins) in the penis. During arousal and stimulation, more blood is pumped into the penis and the outflow of blood is reduced. The result is that the spongy tissue in the penis fills with blood and the penis gets larger and harder. This is referred to as an erection. Full erection (getting hard) may occur quite quickly, especially in young men. For others, it may take a longer period of time to get hard or take more direct stimulation of the penis ( e.g. touching, body rubbing, or oral sex) to reach full erection.

Other body changes that happen during male sexual response are an increase in the size of the testes (balls) and they are pulled upwards with the scrotum (sac). There is increased muscle tension throughout the body as sexual excitement builds. Sometimes the nipples become hard (erect) or a man may notice a sex flush, or reddening of the skin. During periods of sexual excitement a person’s blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate tend to increase.

For men, there is a point where they know for sure they are going to have an orgasm – a 2 or 3 second feeling of a “point of no return”. Muscles contract and feelings are very intense and pleasurable. Ejaculation (coming) occurs at the point of orgasm when the penis releases semen. Ejaculation may be experienced as a series of contractions and spasms in the legs, stomach, arms and back as well as the penis. Semen is pushed through the penis by contractions and may spurt or ooze out. Ejaculations and orgasms will vary from man to man and from time to time. Orgasm/ejaculation is followed by a period of relaxation called the refractory period. During this period, the penis usually becomes softer and it is unlikely that the man will have another erection or orgasm. The length of time it takes for a man to get another erection varies, depending on the individual and the situation. In younger men the refractory period may last only a few minutes, while in older men it may last a few hours or more.

Things that can affect sexual response:

A man’s sexual response is very much connected to his feelings about himself, his partner and the situation in which sexual feelings are shown. Acknowledging these feelings, and talking openly about any concerns with his partner, can often improve sexual responsiveness.

Negative experiences related to sexuality, such as sexual assault, sexual abuse, fear of pregnancy or fear of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, can influence a man’s sexual response. Sometimes people have negative associations to certain smells, sounds or situations based on these negative experiences that can affect their sexual desire.

Fatigue and stress can affect desire and sexual response. Lifestyles that involve fulfilling multiple roles such as employee, parent, homemaker and sexual partner, may result in fatigue and low interest in sexual activity. Couples may need to look for ways to arrange their lives so that time and energy are available for satisfying sexual interactions. The size of a man’s penis is of little importance where sexual response is concerned. Even though the size of the soft (flaccid) penis varies from man to man, there is often little difference in the size of the erect penis.

Occasional impotence (an inability to obtain or maintain an erection) is normal in all men. This may be especially true if he is overly tired, under a large amount of stress, or drinking alcohol. In the rush and stress of modern life, the pressure to perform may affect a man’s sexual life. Some men feel inadequate if they cannot become erect on demand and maintain an erection for long periods of time – this is referred to as ‘performance anxiety’. Worrying less about ‘performance’ and more about finding ways to give and receive love and pleasure can greatly enhance the sexual responsiveness for both partners. Men don’t need to ‘come’ every time they engage in sexual activity in order to be sexually responsive. Men can be marvellously sexual even without having an erection.

Occasional premature ejaculation (reaching orgasm too quickly) is very common, especially when a man is overly excited or particularly anxious. Men can learn to slow down and explore other ways to be sexual beyond sexual intercourse. Many men enjoy touching, speaking, listening, seeing and smelling in addition to sexual intercourse. They can learn to cuddle and stroke and how to become more comfortable with being cuddled and stroked. Over time, many men discover that they can develop some control over how quickly things move from arousal to orgasm – this can be a pleasing and exciting time for both partners.

Difficulties with sexual response can be troubling for a man – and his partner too. If you are having difficulties in the way you respond sexually, talk the matter over with your doctor or a qualified counsellor. In most cases, both the man and his partner can benefit from counseling because this type of concern affects them both. Many difficulties can be resolved if both partners are willing to participate fully and learn from and care for each other.

Adopted from:

Additional reading:

Erectile Dysfunction:

Sexual Health Issues in Men with Cancer

How cancer and cancer treatments affect men’s sexual health

Men being treated for cancer may experience changes that affect their sexual life during, and sometimes after, treatment. While you may not have the energy or interest in sexual activity that you did before treatment, being intimate with and feeling close to your spouse or partner is probably still important.

Your doctor or nurse may talk with you about how cancer treatment might affect your sexual life or you may need to be proactive and ask questions such as: What sexual changes or problems are common among men receiving this type of treatment? What methods of birth control or protection are recommended during treatment?

Whether or not you’ll have problems that affect your sexual health depends on factors such as:

  • the type of cancer
  • the type of treatment(s)
  • the amount (dose) of treatment
  • the length (duration) of treatment
  • your age at time of treatment
  • the amount of time that has passed since treatment
  • other personal health factors

Cancer Treatments May Cause Sexual Problems in Men

Many problems that affect a man’s sexual activity during treatment are temporary and improve once treatment has ended. Other side effects may be long term or may start after treatment.

Your doctor will talk with you about side effects you may have based on your treatment(s):

  • Chemotherapy may lower your testosterone levels and libido during the treatment period. You may be advised to use a condom, because semen may contain traces of chemotherapy for a period of time after treatment. Chemotherapy does not usually affect your ability to have an erection.
  • External-beam radiation therapy to the pelvis (such as to the anus, bladder, penis, or prostate) and brachytherapy (also called internal radiation therapy) can affect a man’s sexual function. If blood vessels or nerves are damaged, it may be difficult to get or keep an erection; this is called erectile dysfunction. If the prostate is damaged, you may have a dry orgasm.
  • Hormone therapy can lower testosterone levels and decrease a man’s sexual drive. It may be difficult to get or keep an erection.
  • Surgery for penile, rectal, prostate, testicular, and other pelvic cancers (such as the bladder, colon, and rectum) may affect the nerves, making it difficult to get and keep an erection. Sometimes nerve-sparing surgery can be used to prevent these problems.
  • Medicines used to treat pain, some drugs used for depression, as well as medicines that affect the nerves and blood vessels may all affect your sex drive. Health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking, can also contribute to changes in your sexual health.

Ways to Manage Sexual Health Issues

People on your health care team have helped others cope during this difficult time and can offer valuable suggestions. You may also want to talk with a sexual health expert to get answers to any questions or concerns.

Most men can be sexually active during treatment, but you’ll want to confirm this with your doctor. For example, there may be times during treatment when you are at increased risk of infection or bleeding and may be advised to abstain from sexual activity. Depending on the type of treatment you are receiving, condom use may be advised.

Your health care team can help you:

  • Learn about treatments: Based on symptoms you are having, your oncologist or a urologist will advise you on treatment options. For example, there are medicines and devices that may be prescribed once a sexual health problem has been diagnosed. Medicines can be given to increase blood flow to the penis. There are also surgical procedures in which a firm rod or inflatable device (penile implant) is placed in the penis, making it possible to get and keep an erection.
  • Learn about condoms and/or contraceptives: Condoms may be advised to prevent your partner’s exposure to chemotherapy drugs that may remain in semen. Based on your partner’s age, contraceptives may be advised to prevent pregnancy.
  • Manage related side effects: Talk with your doctor or nurse about problems such as pain, fatigue, hair loss, loss of interest in activities, sadness, or trouble sleeping, that may affect your sex life. Speaking up about side effects can help you get the treatment and support you need to feel better.
  • Get support and counseling: During this time, it will help to share your feelings and concerns with people you are close to. You may also benefit from participating in a professionally moderated or led support group. Your nurse or social worker can recommend support groups and counselors in your area.

Talking with Your Health Care Team about Sexual Health Issues

As you think about the changes that treatment has brought into your life, make a list of questions to ask your doctor, nurse, or social worker. Consider adding these to your list:

  • What sexual problems are common among men receiving this treatment?
  • What sexual problems might I have during treatment?
  • When might these changes occur?
  • How long might these problems last? Will any of these problems be permanent?
  • How can these problems be prevented, treated, or managed?
  • What precautions do I need to take during treatment? For example, do I need to use a condom to protect my partner?
  • Should my partners and I use contraception to avoid a pregnancy? What types of contraception (birth control) do you recommend?
  • Is there a support group that you recommend?
  • What specialist(s) would you suggest that that I talk with to learn more?

Sexual Health Issues in Men with Cancer was originally published by the National Cancer Institute
Adopted from:

Additional Resources:

1. Questions Men Have about Cancer, Sex, and Getting Professional Helpby American Cancer Society
Summary: questions many men with cancer have and answers to them
2. Cancer Can Affect a Man’s Erectionsby American Cancer Society
Summary: This article describes how surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, and psychological changes caused by cancer effect on erection
3. Cancer Can Affect a Man’s Ability to Ejaculateby American Cancer Society
Summary: describes how surgery and other cancer treatments can affect the ability to ejaculate
4. Treating Sexual Problems for Men with Cancerby American Cancer Society
Summary: provides general suggestions for cancer patients to improve sexual functions
5. Male Sexual Health After Cancerby Livestrong
Summary: This article includes several useful tables including effects of cancer on sexual functioning, finding help for male sexual health, and treatment options for erectile dysfunction.

Men’s Fertility After Cancer

How cancer and cancer treatments affect men’s fertility

1. How Cancer Treatments Can Affect Fertility in Men by American Cancer Society
Summary: some radiation and chemotherapies may damage the sperm and testicles. This article provides general information about how cancer treatment affect men’s fertility

2. Preserving Fertility in Men with Cancer by American Cancer Society
Summary: it includes some options for men to preserve fertility and options for men who are not fertile after cancer treatment

3. Fertility Brochure by Livestrong
Summary: This booklet provides an overview of information about the risks of infertility from cancer treatments and family-building options for both men and women. It also provides additional fertility resources and sample questions to ask your doctors about fertility.

For Women

Female Sexual Response

Normal Sexual Response and Definitions of Sexual Dysfunction for Women

Non-linear Model of Female Sexual Response by Rosemary Basson

This is a model of female sexual response that incorporates the importance of emotional intimacy, sexual stimuli, and relationship satisfaction (see Figure above). This model acknowledges that female sexual functioning proceeds in a more complex manner than male sexual functioning and that female functioning is dramatically and significantly affected by numerous psychosocial issues (e.g., satisfaction with the relationship, self-image, previous negative sexual experiences).
Reprinted from Association of Reproductive Health Professional

Additional Reading:

Healthy Women: Sexual Dysfunction
Summary: The website includes an overview of women’s sexual arousal cycle, causes of sexual dysfunctions in women, types of sexual dysfunctions, and pain related to sexual dysfunction. It also includes some general treatment and prevention methods of sexual dysfunction.

Female Sexual Health After Cancer

How cancer and cancer treatments affect women’s sexual health

If you develop a sexual problem, talk to your health care provider as early as possible about any symptoms or concerns. Some women may feel uncomfortable discussing sexual concerns. However, your health care team can answer questions, refer you to a specialist and help you find solutions. All of your physical and emotional concerns are important, so talk to your health care team. This is especially true if you are experiencing pain during sex or feeling that your intimate relationship has become less enjoyable. Sexuality is an important part of your quality of life after cancer.

When to Start Thinking About Sex After Cancer

You may decide to wait for a while after treatment before having sex. Others may be ready right away. Here are some signs that it may be time to talk with your health care provider about sexual health after cancer treatment:

  • Loss of desire for sex.
  • Negative thoughts and feelings during sex.
  • Difficulty feeling sexual excitement and pleasure during sex.
  • Difficulty reaching climax.
  • Vaginal dryness and tightness.
  • Pain when your genital area is touched or from sexual intercourse.

New sexual problems often begin during or soon after cancer treatment. Be certain to discuss any problems and symptoms with your health care provider—especially if you begin to notice any changes in your ability to have or enjoy sex. Some problems, such as loss of vaginal size and lubrication after radiation to the pelvis, may develop months or even years after cancer treatment is done.

Physical Effects of Treatment on Sexual Functioning

There are many different causes of sexual functioning concerns in female cancer survivors. Some are physical. Others may be due to changes in how you feel about yourself, your body, or other aspects of your life after cancer.

Approximately half of survivors of breast cancer and other cancers that affect the pelvic area (such as the cervix, ovaries, uterus, bladder, colon or vagina) develop long-term sexual problems. Yet, most problems are actually caused by treatment and not the cancer itself. For example:

  • Chemotherapy can damage the ovaries, causing hormonal changes and temporary or permanent menopause in younger women.
  • Radiation to the pelvic area can also damage the ovaries, triggering sudden menopause in younger women; radiation to the vagina can irritate the delicate lining, decreasing the moisture produced with sexual excitement. Over time, scarring of the vaginal walls can make the vagina shorter and less able to expand with excitement.
  • Surgery for pelvic cancer may remove parts of a woman’s sexual organs, including areas of the vulva, part or all of the vagina, and one or both ovaries. Removing both ovaries is another treatment that leads to menopause.
  • Surgery for breast cancer may involve removing the whole breast, with or without reconstruction. Even partial mastectomy can interfere with pleasure from breast caressing if the nipple or underlying tissue was removed.
  • Medicines used to treat pain, nausea, depression or anxiety can decrease a woman’s desire for sex or make it difficult for her to reach a climax.

Talk with your health care team about the risks to sexual functioning before you begin cancer treatment. If you have already undergone treatment, talk with your health care provider about finding ways to treat symptoms or concerns now.

Emotional Effects of Treatment on Sexual Functioning

Emotional reactions to cancer diagnosis and treatment can also interfere with feeling attractive and sexual. It is common in the first year of a cancer diagnosis to have:

  • Sad or depressed feelings.
  • Concerns about changes in the way you look.
  • Stress in the relationship with your partner.
  • Difficulty with self-esteem because of feeling ill and being unable to fill all your usual roles in the family and at work.

If you had concerns or negative feelings about sex before cancer, going through treatment could increase your distress. Ask your health care provider for a referral to a licensed mental health professional who has experience working with cancer survivors.

Finding Help with Female Sexual Functioning

Sexual problems after cancer are very common. Talk with your health care provider about when it is safe to have sex. Also talk with your partner. Many partners hesitate to start sex because they don’t want to pressure you or cause you physical pain. You can prepare for your sexual experience by taking time to get in the mood, focusing on pleasure rather than on whether you will have intercourse or reach an orgasm, and using vaginal moisturizers and lubricants if you notice dryness. Here are other ways to help:

Sexual Functioning Concerns

How to Find Help

Loss of desire for sex after cancer Ask a member of your health care team to check your medications for possible side effects.

Get medical treatment for pain during sex that will not go away or fatigue that may be affecting your energy and desire for sex.

If you are in menopause, see a gynecologist or an endocrinologist.

If there are no physical causes, see a licensed mental health professional to find out if your loss of desire could be related to feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or relationship conflict.

Negative thoughts and feelings during sex Women often find themselves distracted during sex by negative images and thoughts, for example about losing a breast or being infertile.Try focusing on pleasurable feelings in your body or on a sexy thought or fantasy. If that does not help, ask for a referral to a mental health professional who can help you change negative feeling and thinking patterns
Difficulty feeling pleasure during sex If you have lost feeling in an area of your body that gave sexual pleasure you may need to find new caresses that you enjoy. Communicate with your partner.

Ask for a referral to a sex therapist who specializes in treating cancer survivors.

Vaginal dryness and tightness, making sexual activity uncomfortable or painful Talk with a gynecologist who has expertise in menopause and problems with pain during intercourse.

Ask your gynecologist, for advice on using over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers for before and during sexual activity. You also may benefit from learning to control the muscles around the vaginal entrance. Some women can benefit from low-dose vaginal estrogen in a cream, tablet or ring form. Such hormones can help the vagina regain moisture and ability to stretch with less getting into the general blood circulation.

Difficulty reaching orgasm Ask your health care team to check your medications. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medicines may make it more difficult for you to have an orgasm.

Give yourself time. Try not to pressure yourself to have an orgasm. Try to have a goal of enjoying sex and getting as much pleasure as possible. The nerves that help a woman feel pleasure around the clitoris and in the vagina are rarely damaged by cancer treatment. Cancer or its treatment rarely will physically prevent you from having an orgasm.

Treatment Options for Women with Sexual Concerns

Loss of desire for sex is often a complex problem that needs both counseling and some medical help. There is no magic pill that can restore desire, but communication with your partner, patience, and experimenting with touch can often help. But there are some treatment options for sexual functioning concerns. Talk with your health care provider about these common methods:

Treatments for sexual functioning concerns



Vaginal moisturizers (such as Replens®, Hyalo-D®, or Luvena®) Vaginal moisturizers are designed to keep the vaginal lining moist all the time. Some include prebiotic ingredients to help grow healthy bacteria and keep the vagina at a good pH.

Need to be used regularly at bedtime 2 to 3 times a week

May replace the need for lubricants during sex, although women may benefit from an extra lubricant for lovemaking even if they are using a moisturizer.

Can be costly and is not covered by insurance.

May be messy. Some women may need to use a mini-pad, but the discharge decreases after a couple of weeks.

Water- or silicone-based vaginal lubricants Water-based lubricants last longer and work better than old-style gels. Silicone-based lubricants last even longer but are more expensive and may stain sheets or clothing.

Can be purchased at most drugstores or over the Internet. Look for brands that do not contain perfumes or chemicals such as parabens or gycerine, and that try to keep the vagina at the same pH as is normal before menopause (4.5).

May wear off and need to be re-applied during sexual caressing or intercourse.

May not be effective enough to prevent pain if there is severe vaginal dryness.

Low-dose vaginal estrogen replacement (such as Estring, Vagifem) The Estring releases a small dose of hormone over three months.

The Vagifem suppository is used a couple of times a week.

Both Estring and Vagifem produce a low dose of estrogen. This is considered to be helpful treating vaginal dryness with very little hormone released into the bloodstream. Generally thought to be safer than pills, patches, or creams.

Some oncologists still worry about breast cancer survivors using these products. A small study found that some women using suppositories still had levels of estrogen in their blood high enough to interfere with the benefits of aromatase inhibitors.
Find comfortable positions for intercourse Certain positions may help avoid pain during sex. Requires good communication between partners.
Learn to relax muscles around the vaginal entrance Learn methods of relaxation to avoid pain during intercourse. Try “Kegel” exercises.

Women can use silicone vaginal dilators to practice muscle control, starting with a smaller size and going up to larger ones. Always use a water-based lubricant on the dilator and be gentle inserting the dilator.

Can help minimize pain, but may not relieve pain if tissue scarring is present in the vagina.
Herbal pills or genital lotions Lotions may act as lubricants. Herbal remedies may interfere with other medicines or may have unknown dangers.
No scientifically valid studies have identified lotions to help with sexual dysfunction.
Some lotions may irritate skin or tissues. Lotions containing L-arginine may trigger episodes of genital herpes if a woman has a history of infection with this virus.

Adopted from:

Additional Reading:

1. Questions Women Have about Cancer, Sex, and Getting Professional Help by American Cancer Society
Summary: questions many women with cancer have and answers to them

2. Renewing Intimacy & Sexuality after Gynecologic Cancer by Foundation for Women’s Cancer
Summary: a brochure answers many common questions women with cancers have

3. Surgery Can Affect a Woman’s Sex Life by American Cancer Society
Summary: it provides information about how surgeries like pelvic surgery, radical hysterectomy, breast cancer surgery can affect woman’s sexuality

4. Pelvic Radiation Can Affect a Woman’s Sex Life by American Cancer Society
Summary: describes how pelvic radiation affect woman’s sexuality

5. Chemo and Hormone Therapy Can Affect a Woman’s Sex Life by American Cancer Society
Summary: this article describes how chemo and hormone therapy and therapy-related problems affect sexuality. It also provides information about pregnancy and fertility during and after chemo.

6. Treating Sexual Problems for Women with Cancer by American Cancer Society
Summary: provides general suggestions for cancer patients to improve sexual functions

Women’s Fertility After Cancer

How cancer and cancer treatments affect women’s fertility

1. How Cancer Treatments Can Affect Fertility in Women by American Cancer Society>
Summary: some cancer therapies and surgeries can affect women’s fertility and cause problems during pregnancy. This article provides general information about how cancer treatments can affect women’s fertility

2. Preserving Fertility in Women with Cancer by American Cancer Society
Summary: it includes some options for women to preserve fertility and options for women who are not fertile after cancer treatment.

3. Fertility Brochure by Livestrong
Summary: This booklet provides an overview of information about the risks of infertility from cancer treatments and family-building options for both men and women. It also provides additional fertility resources and sample questions to ask your doctors about fertility.

For AYA (adolescents and young adults)

For teenagers and younger adults:

1. Cancer Explain by Foundation Medicine (YouTube video)
Summary: This is an introductory video of cancer and different cancer treatments
2. Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer by National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)
Summary: This booklet explains cancer basics, cancer tests, and treatments. It is a very comprehensive guide for AYAs dealing with cancer. We hope this will lead you to get your best care plan.
3. Guidelines for Patients by NCCN
Summary: This is a comprehensive resource bank for people who want to learn more about different cancer types, cancer screenings, cancer treatments, and supportive cares dealing with distress or side effects.
4. Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer by National Cancer Institute
Summary: This page includes some general information about types of cancers in young people, treatment choices, after treatment concerns, and organizations serving AYA population.
5. Cancer Center by Teens Health
Summary: easy-to-read website for teens to learn more about cancer basics, treatments, and many others

How cancer and cancer treatments affect AYA’s sexual health

1. Gynecologic Concerns in Children and Adolescents with Cancer
Summary: cancer and its treatment may have immediate or delayed adverse effects on reproductive health. This article provides information about cancer therapy toxicity and its impact on children’s and adolescents’ physiology.

AYA Fertility After Cancer

1. Fertility Preservation for Children Diagnosed with Cancer by (Northwestern University)
Summary: This webpage is designed to provide information about fertility preservation options available for adolescents and children. You can also use the Clinic/Center Finder link to find a fertility preservation center closest to you.
2. Preserving Fertility in Men with Cancer by American Cancer Society
Summary: This webpage provides information about different options for men to preserve fertility and it also options for men who are not fertile after cancer treatments
3. Preserving Fertility in Women with Cancer by American Cancer Society
Summary: This webpage includes information about options for women to preserve fertility and options for women who are not fertile after cancer treatment. See additional resources for male fertility and female fertility after cancer.

Support Groupsand Additional Resources:

Resources and Support Groups for AYA in Iowa
1.UnityPoint Health DesMoines has an AYA cancer program (for ppl age 15-35) which provides individualized services including most up-to-date clinical treatment information, psychological counseling, fertility education, genetic testing, and nutritional education. It also has a social support group for AYA people to get involved.
2. UIHC AYA patients program (for age 13-31) provides AYA patient care during and after treatment. Right now, it focuses on the people who are diagnosed with Leukemia and lymphoma, Neuroendocrine and neurological cancers, Sarcoma, and Thyroid cancer
3. Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer by National Comprehensive Cancer Network
Summary: This book is provided freely by the NCCN aiming to help you get the best care plan for AYAs with cancer. It explains which cancer tests and treatments are recommended by experts on cancer in AYAs. It is a very comprehensive guide.
Nationwide Organizations/Resources for AYA

1. Stupid Cancer: This organization is created by Matthew Zachary, who was diagnosed with brain cancer during his senior year of college in 1995. It is a great place to network with other young cancer adults. The Stupid Cancer organization holds annual OMG! Cancer Summit; the Stupid Cancer Show, a weekly online radio program; and local social events held around the country, including meetups, tweetups, boot camps, and barbecues. It is also a good place to search on available financial, mental, employment opportunities, and insurance assistance.
2. Livestrong: Adolescents & Young Adults It is a good website for AYA people to learn more about fertility preservations, parenthood options, survivorship, and other cancer survivors stories
3. Young Survival Coalition: a good website aims to help young women with breast cancer to learn more about different cancer types, treatments, and fertility impacts. There are also many ways to connect with other people through this organization like discussion board and online video support groups available via Facebook.
4. SeventyK: aims to educate AYA cancer survivors more about cancer and different treatment types

For Pediatric Cancer

Pediatric Cancer Basics

Imaginary Friend Society by Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (YouTube video)
Summary: this film series goes over kid’s common concerns about cancer, cancer treatments, and treatment-related emotions.

 How Cancer and Treatment Affect Children’s Fertility

1. Effects of Cancer Treatment on Fertility by Kids Health
Summary: This article talks about risks of treatments and some preservation options for kids.
2. Fertility Preservation for Children Diagnosed with Cancer by (Northwestern University)
Summary: This webpage is designed to provide information about fertility preservation options available for adolescents and children. You can also use the Clinic/Center Finder link to find a fertility preservation center closest to you.

Support Groups And Additional Resources:

1. American Childhood Cancer Organization: recommend books for families who have a kid with cancer. Families can order free resources from this website:
2. Sunshine Kids: This organization provides various exciting, positive group activities to kid cancer survivors throughout the year.

Common Concerns


Many people face emotional challenges like depression, anxiety, fear or distress when cancer becomes part of their lives. Here are some articles you can learn more about those feelings from you or your loved ones.


1. Emotional Challenges When Facing Cancer and Infertility
2. You Feelings During Treatment
3. Finding Hope
4. Changing priorities
American Cancer Society:

1. Distress in People With Cancer
2. Anxiety, Fear, and Depression
3. Anxiety, Fear, and Emotional Distress

Body Image

Many people may experience temporary or permanent physical changes due to cancer or cancer treatments. Here are some articles to help you understand how cancer or cancer treatments can affect your body image and tips to rebuild your confidence and self-image.

1. Body Image by Livestrong
2. Ostomies by Livestrong
3. Body Image and Sexuality After Breast Cancer by American Cancer Society


For cancer patients, changes in life can cause challenges in relationships. This article provides general tips for people with cancer in different kinds of relationships.

1. Relationships during Treatments by Livestrong

Dating and Networking

Want to know people diagnosed with cancer from other parts of the nation or world? Here are some cancer survivor networking and dating sites available:

1. Cancer Match
2. Cancer Survivor
3. MyLifeLine:
4. UIHC online cancer support group: an Iowa local support provides private, confidential, and free-of-charge platforms for cancer patients to participate. Current online support groups are through email and Facebook.

Money and Insurance

Here are some articles provide specific suggestions to cancer survivors with financial, insurance, or employment concerns.

1. Federal and State Benefit Programs by Livestrong
Summary: provides federal and state benefits program information and teaches patients on how to apply for these benefits. Patients can also call and request a financial consult from Livestrong.
2. Healthcare Assistance for Uninsured by Livestrong
Summary: provides healthcare assistance information for uninsured people
3. The Cancer Finances Toolkit
4. Employment Issues by Livestrong
Summary: general steps on how to think and deal with employment and insurance issues. It also provides legal information to help patients protect their benefits during and after cancer.
5.Cancer Careers
Summary: This website provides general tips for a job application and resumes review services
6. The SamFund
Summary: Since 2005, the Samfund has provided over $1.6 million to support young adult cancer survivors. Click the link to find out if you are eligible to apply.

Nutrition and Activity

1. Lifestyle Changes that Make a Difference by American Cancer Society
Summary: This booklet delivers a concise guide to the evidence-based steps you can take to help yourself or your family.
2. Eating Hints: Before, During, and After Cancer Treatments by National Cancer Institute
Summary: This booklet covers common types of eating problems and ways you or your loved ones can manage them before, during, or after cancer treatments.
3. Physical Activity and the Cancer Patients by American Cancer Society
Summary: it covers benefits of physical activity during treatments and common precautions for cancer survivors who want to exercise
4. Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors by Rock, et al (American Cancer Society)
Summary: This report summaries evidence-based findings of nutrition and physical activities for cancer survivors. A very comprehensive guide for people looking for more advanced information.

Pelvic Health Exercise

Pelvic floor muscle exercise, also known as Kegel exercise, strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina or penis, and back passage. It is a great exercise to help stop incontinence, treat prolapse, and make sex better.  Beth Shelly is a physical therapist who is specializing in pelvic health. In her website, free educational resources are provided regarding this exercise.

Support Groups and Resources:

Regional/National Organizations:

1. Will2love 
2. UIHC online cancer support group
3. Livestrong
4. Livestrong Fertility Program
5. Stupid Cancer
6. The Samfund
7. YSC: Young Survival Coalition (for breast cancer survivors)
8. Dating, Sex, and Reproduction

General Statistics and Facts:

1. American Cancer Society
2. National Cancer Institute
3. Livestrong

Cancer Survivors’ Stories

1. Our YouTube vlogs
2. National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
3. Cancer Treatment Centers of America
4. City of Hope
5. Share Cancer Support

Medical Research Studies

1. Sexual Desire Study


With Your Provider:

1. The Doctor-Patient Relationship by American Cancer Society
2. Communicating with Your Doctor by National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS)

With Your Partner:

Couples’ Exercises:

All relationships need a little pick-me-up sometimes, even the best ones.

To that end, we’ve compiled some suggestions on how to improve your connection with your significant other. These actions will make your partner feel loved, appreciated and desired, and will make your relationship stronger.

Turn off your smartphone

If you’re glued to Facebook during dinner, then it’s time to unplug. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior looked at data from 1,160 married people and found a negative correlation between heavy social-media use and relationship happiness. “When angry, some people may turn to texting to avoid saying something,” Saltz says. “It’s a way of creating distance.” While it doesn’t hurt to send a flirty or loving message, it does pay off to be more direct with your partner when something is really eating at you.

Go to bed at the same time

Feel like you never have a free moment together? Hitting the sack at the same time will help. “Bedtime might be the only opportunity you’re alone together all day,” says Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., author of The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time. Even if you’re a night owl, you can always stay in bed until your partner drifts off. You should also make sure you’re both getting a healthy amount of shut-eye. A study from the University of California, Berkeley, looked at the sleep habits of more than 100 couples. Those who reported poor sleep were much more likely to argue with their significant other the next day.

Brew a cup of coffee for your partner

Grand gestures aren’t the only way to express your love. Something as simple as brewing your partner a cup of coffee in the morning helps improve your relationship, says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a marriage researcher and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great. Orbuch has studied 373 couples for more than 28 years through the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, and her research shows that frequent small acts of kindness are a predictor of happiness in a relationship. “People may feel taken for granted,” Orbuch says. By doing these small tasks on a regular basis, you’ll help your partner feel noticed.

Bring up a funny moment from your past

Sometimes the best memories are the funny ones. In a Motivation and Emotion study, couples that remembered laughing together — like the time a grocery-store clerk did something funny in the checkout line — reported greater relationship satisfaction than those who remembered experiences that were positive but not necessarily when they’d laughed. “Laughter reminiscence packs an additional punch because people relive the moment by laughing again,” says study author Doris Bazzini, Ph.D., a psychologist at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.

Work up a sweat

It’s no secret that getting buff helps you out in the bedroom by boosting your endurance, strength and flexibility — but a sweat session also has more immediate effects. “Endorphins from exercise give you an adrenaline rush that boosts arousal,” Orbuch says. Activities that get your heart rate up, like hiking, running or biking, are guaranteed to have a positive effect on desire. “Any kind of arousal rush can be transferred to your partner and add passion to your relationship,” Orbuch says.

Dance before dinnertime

Couples who frequently try new things together have higher-quality relationships, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. And we’re not necessarily talking extreme activities like skydiving or traveling to an exotic corner of the world (though those work too) — the activities simply should be new to the two of you, and can last for as little as seven minutes, researchers say. Dinnertime is one moment it’s easy to try something new. Turn on some catchy music while you’re cooking and start dancing together, Orbuch suggests. Or you could try a new a cooking technique — homemade sushi, anyone?

Have sex in a different place

Getting busy often enough to satisfy you both is key. If you’re feeling so-so about your bedroom romps, it might be time for a change. One idea: try having sex in a room or area you’ve never done it in. “New elements of play stimulate the dopamine system,” Saltz says. “When you do something that causes you to release more dopamine, it’s a positive reinforcer.” Want to suggest a tryst in the kitchen? Don’t worry about making it a drawn-out conversation, she says. It can be as simple as a one-liner that hints at your intention like, “The kids are gone. How about the kitchen table?” As long as your partner is game for the idea too, nothing’s stopping you.

Give your partner a hug

Nonsexual touching like hugging or handholding is just as important as sex itself in keeping your relationship healthy. “Touching is probably the most definitive way to let other people know you’re in a relationship,’” Goldsmith says. In the long run, the more you touch your mate, the more you’ll feel comfortable with each other. “Touching is a way we calm ourselves down,” Goldsmith says. “Every time you do it, you’re sending a positive message to your significant other.”

Ask a new question

As a couple, you probably spend most of your time chatting about work, your kids or your friends. When’s the last time you stopped to ask something new about each other? Everyone changes as relationships progress, Orbuch says, so it’s likely your partner has different interests and passions from the early years of your relationship. So ask your partner about anything you wouldn’t normally — movies, music, even what you’d do with lottery winnings.

Say thank you

Think about the last time your partner did something to help you out or made you feel special, and then say “thank you” for it. “You get so comfortable with your partner, it’s easy to expect them to meet your needs,” Saltz says. Too often couples forget to express a simple thanks, whether one of you helps out with the chores or surprises the other with a gift. And have you ever said thank you to your partner for simply being in your life? It’s important to express gratitude for this — not just for what they’re doing for you, Goldsmith says.

Adopted from Time:

Additional resources:

1. 6 Amazing Couples Therapy Exercises for Improving Communication

2. Communication Exercises for Couples to Maintain a Healthy Bond

3. 21 Couples Therapy Worksheets, Techniques, & Activities

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