Sex, intimacy often ignored after cancer

Oct. 25, 2011 at 1:42 AM
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SARASOTA, Fla., Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Sex and intimacy after cancer treatment are often ignored, a Florida certified sexuality counselor, healthcare educator and cancer survivor suggests.

Rabbi Ed Weinsberg said hardly anyone emphasizes ways to address cancer survivors' need for greater intimacy, even though most suffer from some form of long-term sexual dysfunction.

In fact, one-third of the 400,000 Americans diagnosed each year with prostate or breast cancers are baby boomers, ages 45-65, whose vibrant personal lives are suddenly disrupted.

"When it comes to major illnesses like breast and prostate cancer, quality of life issues like improving patients' sexual relationships are generally overlooked, even when specialists address the medical mechanics of sexual rehabilitation," Weinsberg said in a statement.

Weinsberg provides 10 strategies to reverse survivors' tendency to distance themselves from their spouses or partners due to anxiety about disfigurement or sexual dysfunction.

The most crucial strategy, Weinsberg said, is to "make love," and not just "have sex."

Intimacy can develop if partners emphasize "whole-body sex" rather than intercourse alone, Weinsberg said.

Weinberg said he practices and preaches his "S-T-I-C-K" method of sensate-focus, where partners express mutual appreciation and rekindle romance through psychological stroking (S), touching (T) from head to toe, intercourse (I) only if mutually desired, cuddling (C) and kissing (K).

Initiating humor and playfulness and "keeping the faith" are equally important, Weinsberg said.

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