Our Reclaiming Intimacy presentations inform, educate and empower people who are going through cancer diagnosis, treatment and healing, and those who are dealing with life-long illnesses on how to reclaim their intimacy in their own way, in their own time. These frequently asked questions are often addressed in every presentation we do. Check out all of our FAQ sheets to get the answers to some of your own questions! This FAQ sheet focuses on a multitude of women’s issues in dealing with cancer and illness, helping to empower them to heal and persevere, bringing back their hope that was lost after diagnosis to overcome this battle and reclaim their intimacy.
In our Reclaiming Intimacy outreach classes and presentations, we offer a time at the end of our educational talk for questions. We allow people to ask any questions openly, as many times people have the same questions, concerns and wonders about a specific topic. We feel that these opportunities to educate and empower our students help them to better understand themselves and their bodies. If they are not comfortable asking these questions aloud, we also give notecards and pencils for anyone to write down a question anonymously, and we then read these questions aloud for everyone to hear.
Our classes and presentations often have different focuses for the different groups we serve dealing with different types of cancer. We provide educational talks to those with breast cancer, prostate and testicular cancer, uterine, colorectal, stomach, lung, brain, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and many other types of cancer that have growing statistical rates in our area. These talks all focus around reclaiming the intimacy that our human souls crave and need to thrive and reclaiming the parts of life that seem impossible. Where there is a will, there is a way, and we are grateful for your trust to help with your most intimate and private needs to reclaim your whole being.
These are some of the top asked questions of our educator:
Q: I recently had a double mastectomy and am waiting to decide on reconstruction. The area is generally sore or full of painful sensation. Is there anything I can use to relieve these feelings?
A: There is a unique device made by Reclaiming Intimacy called the Whisper. This gentle, extremely soft and flexible stimulator rests directly on the chest. It has two ‘cups’ that are moveable to the position needed to fit in the area where the discomfort resides. It gives a gentle vibration that is suitable from the point of after surgical release from your doctor. This can help awaken the nerves in the area that were damaged and regain pieces of feeling here and there without adding any medications or unnatural aspects to your treatment.
There are also medical-grade silicone and other varieties of breast inserts made to fit into a bra. These can help during times of transition or if you decide to forego reconstruction for the time being, or forever. These can be made out of fabric or crocheted with very soft yarn and materials. These ‘falsies’ are available in standard sizes like small, medium, and large, or can be custom-made with specific cup sizes, skin tones, and nipple enhancements.
By taking control of your breast health and utilizing tools that can help to heal and empower you during this difficult time, you give yourself the best foot forward on getting back to yourself.
Q: I experience extreme vaginal dryness since my hysterectomy after uterine cancer. There doesn’t seem to be anything that can correct this problem, and the medications my doctor prescribed only made my other medical issues and side effects worse.
A: This is a common issue with many women across the world, and there are things that you can do to help relieve the dryness and heal your skin. Rather than using a medicinal approach to begin, consider looking in to vaginal moisturizers and renewal creams. These will not interfere with your medication regimen and do not have hormones or chemicals in them that are dangerous for your body. One specific brand we have the most history with is our Reclaiming Intimacy Flourish lubricant, which is made to help the body rejuvenate the skin with natural Nori algae and seaweed. When used regularly, this silky thick formula really does revive the vagina and lessens the dryness experienced with cancer treatment, hysterectomies and other vaginal issues. The best part? You can use it whenever and where ever, or however many times per day you need! With whichever vaginal moisturizer you end up with, find one with the least number of additives, chemicals and extras. Stay as natural as you can. Check out the other options available from our lubrication line to help you to overcome your vaginal dryness and sensitivity.
Q: Since my reconstruction surgeries, I have not been able to stand the sight of myself naked. My partner, on the other hand, seems to have no issue. What can I do to ease my own stress and tension with the steps of intimacy and being with my partner comfortably again?
A: When our bodies change, especially due to medical conditions out of our control, it takes us some time to persevere and readjust to our new ‘normal.’ There is nothing wrong with this period of adjustment and reconfiguring what you need during intimacy and intimate moments in life. These body changes that stimulate our mind changes also change the things that we like and need sexually. This is all completely normal and part of the process. And just as you said, it is often us that have the most trouble adjusting, as our partners still see the ‘old’ us shining through.
An easy way to ease your own feelings would be to add a simple blindfold in to your routine. This will help to calm and heal your mind, taking the focus off of what you see, and refocus it on what you feel, smell, hear and taste. With a little focused redirection, we can train our brains to overcome the negative to find the positive, the pleasure, and that of which we truly desire- intimacy, feeling connected and empowered.
Aside from using a blindfold, you will need to work on coming to terms with your new self. I was once told by a triple breast-cancer survivor that, “spending your days living the life you deserve and want, followed by an evening with a glass of wine, looking in the mirror at your ever-changing body… it’s kind of empowering, because look at me- I am still going. I am still here, and I am (expletive) beautiful. Being okay with you is a major part of healing.” This message has stuck with me since we began this years ago, and why we choose to help people heal, overcome, persevere and empower themselves in times of trouble to help reclaim their intimacy.
Q: After stage four cervical cancer, a hysterectomy and vaginal reconstruction, it has left me with scar tissue and pain. Attempting to have intercourse is almost impossible due to the pain of insertion, but thinner objects seem fine. I am eager to reclaim my intimacy and sexual being but might need a new way to go about things. Can you help?
A: Intense and extreme vaginal pain after such surgeries is very common and unfortunately not always immediately fixable. When scar tissues build up after repeated surgeries in the same area, it can take some time to work to thin the tissues and soften them up. In most situations, doctors recommend getting a dilator set to help heal and work the vaginal tissues back open again. Dilator sets come in a multitude of sizes, shapes and styles. Beginning with the smallest size, the user holds these in their vagina, sometimes turning or moving it around, for a certain number of hours a few times a week, gradually moving up through the sizes as she needs. In time, this helps to heal and stretch the tighter vaginal tissues which allows for you to overcome painful penetration in the future.
Some of the best dilator sets on the market are from the Dr. Laura Berman line. The Dr. Berman dilator sets are made out of super soft and silky material, which ensures that your sensitive skin is taken care of. The Reclaiming Intimacy’s Rejuvenate set includes graduated premium silicone probes with a durable and convenient finger loop for control. The skin-like material helps with gentle insertion and includes a small vibrating bullet for extra sensation. The Reclaiming Intimacy Revitalize set is designed to be ergonomically curved and made to ease your through the premium silicone probe sizes. With this set that includes a vibrator (which uses three AAA batteries), you begin with the smaller size and advance whenever you are ready to the larger probe.
These sets were created to help rejuvenate the vaginal muscles and reduce insertion discomfort with every use. Always begin with the smallest size of dilators, moving up as your muscles heal and become more elasticized. Both of these sets are hypoallergenic, unscented, and phthalate free.
For women who cannot work with the dilator set and cannot find a way to ease the pain of vaginal intercourse, they may need to consider trying sex in a different way. Anal intercourse, once trained in the proper etiquette and safety, can provide the same intense, pleasure-driven orgasms. Clitoral orgasms with or without penetration of another object are also possible. Our bodies are capable of having over a dozen types of orgasms if you are willing to take the time to learn how to achieve them. In these situations where people are forced to persevere and find a new route to intimacy, they often stumble across hidden pleasure wants and new and exciting ways to find their orgasm and feel incredibly empowered.
If you have your own questions to be answered and do not feel comfortable asking your medical care team, feel free to send your questions to our page and our Reclaiming Intimacy Through HOPE team will do our best to help educate and empower you, or point you in the direction of a medical professional who can!
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