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Sexual Side Effects of Chemotherapy

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Genetics & Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer in Men
Signs & Symptoms
Breast Cancer Screening
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Side Effects on Sex & Intimacy
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Sexual Side Effects of Chemotherapy  

Why does chemotherapy decrease sex drive and cause vaginal dryness?

Chemotherapy may affect the level of estrogen, the female hormone. Hormonal therapy for breast cancer and some chemotherapy drugs work by blocking or reducing estrogen.

When her estrogen levels are reduced, a previously pre-menopausal woman may experience:

Irregular menstrual cycles
Menopausal symptoms, such as vaginal dryness and cessation of menstruation
Depressed libido

Menopausal women undergoing chemotherapy may experience:

Worsening of menopausal symptoms, such as vaginal dryness
Depressed libido

Regardless of a woman's age, a depressed libido and vaginal dryness both can make sex painful and undesirable.

See our Q&As on management and treatment of depressed libido and vaginal dryness.

Questions Related to Sexual Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Are there sexual side effects associated with mastectomy?
Is vigorous breast stimulation after being treated for breast cancer OK?
How can I cope with my depressed libido after having been treated for breast cancer?
Is there anything I can do to relieve the vaginal dryness?
What is an Estring?
Does my partner have to wear a condom when we have sex after my chemotherapy treatments?
Can I have sex during chemotherapy?
How can my partner and I deal with my mastectomy during sex?
Can I have children after being treated for breast cancer?

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