Here’s an interesting article in Salon by Ann Bauer, “Sex Without Nipples,” about the differential between counseling and treatment offered to cancer patients about sexual issues in men’s versus women’s cancer surgeries. Sadly, I’m not surprised–as we’ve seen before, somehow it’s all about teh menz and their feelings and their sexual satisfaction, no matter whose body has the cancer. Whereas prostate cancer patients are counseled heavily about the sexual side-effects of their cancer treatments, women who opt for mastectomies are never advised about the possible consequences to their sex lives. Bauer writes:
This is particularly true, it seems, when the topic is nipples. Virtually none of the literature or education around the topic of breast cancer covers the sudden disappearance of erotic sensation in the breast. There is no attempt, as there is in a prostatectomy, to preserve the nerves. Modern mastectomy simply hacks off the offending tissue and creates a blank area where there once was tingling current.
There are also body-image issues after breast cancer surgery and reconstruction, for patients and their partners. But, one young woman who tested positive for BRCA1 and chose to have a preventive double mastectomy makes it sound like her partner’s discomfort and even disgust with her surgery, recuperation, and new body were another problem for her to solve, a problem she didn’t handle well enough. “Jessie”‘s own mother had died at age 30, and she had five other maternal relatives die from the disease–so she figured, why take the chance? Continue Reading »