Should I be having Safe Sex during my Cancer Treatment?

Summary: One of the most significant topics to address during your cancer treatment is the importance of having safe sex. Why? If your treatment plan includes chemotherapy or radiation, this not only changes your cellular DNA, but is also excreted by your body after your treatment, which could affect your partner. Learn more about cancer and safe sex here.

The first question many women ask when beginning their cancer treatment is, “Can I still have sex with my partner during this treatment?” The answer, unless you have a physical limitation, should always be YES! Most all specialist report advising their patients to find intimacy and try to have the most “regular” routines now, just as they did before cancer came.

The unmentioned question that many women and men do not even think about is the risk for exposure after their chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

What does that mean?

Well, for at least three days after your chemotherapy treatment- and up to a few weeks after, you will excrete the chemicals in various ways through your body. These chemicals can affect your sex cells, or reproductive parts, causing DNA and cell damage- which could result in an unplanned pregnancy with possible severe issues to the fetus. The same can be said for radiation therapy, in that, your body will be radioactive for a time after each of your treatments.

What should you do?

It’s simple! Just wear a condom or use protection! Reclaiming Intimacy offers up the best condoms on the market! Depending on your needs, you could check out our Sustain line. This line is all natural, and offers the Thin, Comfort Fit, and Tailored fit varieties. If you need latex free condoms, try Skyn– the best non-latex condom around!

Once you’ve armed yourself with protection for safe sex, remember these tips for safe and healthy intimate and sexual activity.

  • Be sure to use a reliable form of birth control to prevent pregnancy; even if you think your periods have stopped or your fertility has been affected.
  • Chemotherapy has been proven to be excreted in vaginal secretions and seminal fluid for 48-72 hours after a treatment. Other studies have shown in to be excreted for weeks after treatment. You should use a condom for oral sex or intercourse during this period to prevent your partner from being exposed to the chemotherapy. This includes all forms of chemotherapy.
  • Think outside the box about sexual activity. It does not have to involve intercourse or oral sex. Use kissing, touching, caressing to satisfy each other.
  • Keep communication open. Talk about what feels good and what does not and speak up when you are simply too drained and too tired to try.
  • Cancer surgery may result in certain new body pains. Try different positions to find what is best for you and your partner.
  • Talk with your medical care team about changes in your body image and sexual health.
  • For women with an ostomy, using an ostomy cover or camisole as camouflage can help with concerns about others noticing the bag. Many resources are available through a simple online search for ostomy covers.

Resources Used:

Reclaiming Intimacy


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