Part of disclosing details about your lymphoma experience to a new potential partner includes sharing how lymphoma treatment may have affected your body. In some people, lymphoma treatment may have caused reproductive or sexual side effects that may affect your intimate relationships.
If treatment has affected your ability to have children, and your partner has shared with you that having children is important to them, it is best to share these issues early on.
For some people, lymphoma treatment may not have only affected the physical body but also how one feels about their body. You may be struggling with self-image concerns that also affect your self-confidence and feelings of attractiveness.
Regardless of your situation, it is always important to be honest to your new partner since open communication is important for any relationship and will lead to a greater sense of emotional trust and intimacy. It is best to talk to your new partner about your concerns with sexual intimacy before you reach that phase of your relationship. Here are some tips on how to have this sensitive conversation:
- Pick a time when you are both relaxed and can have a focused conversation (eg, turning off cell phones).
- Pick a place that is private and neutral so that both of you will feel comfortable in your surroundings.
- Plan what you want to say ahead of time (eg, write down your thoughts or share with a friend).
- Discuss and explain potential physical problems (eg, erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness) and think of ways to manage them before your first sexual experience.
- Practice saying sexual terms, if you are uncomfortable using them.
- When you do reach the sexual intimacy stage of your relationship, guide your partner to the positions and activities that provide pleasure and explain those that cause pain or discomfort so he or she can avoid hurting you.
- Understand that sexual intimacy involves more than intercourse, you can explore a broad range of sensuous activity that allow different ways of giving and receiving sexual pleasure.
Canadian Cancer Society. Relationships after cancer