Sex and Cancer: Smitten Kitten Can Help You Find Your Way

Ope! My doctor didn't tell me THAT would happen?!

Common physical and emotional experiences throughout the course of cancer survivorship deeply and profoundly impact basic sexual functioning, sexuality, and intimate relationships.

 

Honestly, It would be difficult to overstate the dramatic impact a cancer diagnosis, treatments, illness and survivorship has on both individuals and intimate partnerships.

  • Loss of Libido
  • Body Image Issues Post Treatments
  • Sexual Pain
  • Loss of Erectile Function
  • Lack of Arousal & Inability to Orgasm
  • Genital Dryness & Lack of Elasticity
  • Depression and/or Anxiety
  • Medical Trauma 
  • Inability, Disinterest, or Difficulty with Once Favorite Sexual Activities
  • Communication Trouble with Intimate Partners
  • and more...

Regrettably, these are some of the least talked about personal impacts of cancer. But it doesn't have to be this way!

We are here to SHARE helpful tips, encouragement, information and inspiration JUST FOR YOU. Keep reading:

 
FIRST FOCUS

Open & Honest Information Is Empowering

Let's face it, there are lots of understandable reasons why it's difficult to talk about sex generally! Many of us were raised in such a way that made sex a taboo topic. Only 12% of Americans over the age of 60 have had any sex education instruction in their entire lifetimes. Even in younger generations, sex education is still woefully inadequate. For these reasons and many, many more (I am sure you can make your own list) we have to intentionally seek out meaningful and practical sex and sexuality education as adults.

 

Never fear. Books are here!

Luckily, more and more self help sex education books are available that specifically speak to your experiences of sex in the context of cancer. Here are a few of our most recommended titles:

Anne Katz's Woman Cancer Sex: Second Ed.


TOP RECOMMENDATION:
Buy this for yourself, buy this for your partner, buy this for your mom, your sister, your friend- ANY woman who is experiencing cancer will receive life-changing support in these pages. 

"Women who have survived cancer remain sexual beings despite the challenges of cancer treatment, and they often have nowhere to go with their questions and concerns. This text interweaves stories from clinical practice with evidence-based tips and interventions for a range of physical and emotional side effects resulting from cancer and its treatment. Each chapter describes the experience of a woman with a particular kind of cancer and a variety of related problems, including loss of libido, physical pain, body image issues, depression, and struggles communicating with a partner and health care providers."

 

More Highly Recommended Titles:

 

Second Focus:

Genital Dryness Is Real, It's a Common Effect of Cancer Treatments & There's Solutions


MOISTURIZE REGULARLY:
In addition to sexual pain, genital dryness often causes discomfort for cancer survivors' everyday activities. You can soothe and care for this delicate tissue by lightly massaging in a hydrating moisturizer, specifically formulated for use in and around the genitals. Doing so a few times per week, over time, will promote genital health and wellness. 

 

Coconu Organic Plant Oil Based Vaginal Moisturizer


TOP RECOMMENDATION: Coconu's plant-oil based moisturizer is truly luxurious. This formulation will hydrate the skin, protect it, and feel lovely and indulgent. This products gets slipperier as it warms to body temperature, but is never runny or messy. Great as an everyday vaginal moisturizer, or all purpose lubricant, Coconu is incredibly versatile. 

This product contains organic Sunflower Seed Oil, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Shea Butter, Cocoa Seed Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Canola Oil, Kukui Seed Oil, and Sea Buckthorn Oil. 

PRO TIP: HOW TO APPLY LUBE FOR SEX

We recommend the One-Two Strategy:

ONE: Liberally apply a moisturizing (Water-Based or Oil-Based) lube to your genitals. Use your hands and fingers to apply the product as needed!

TWO: Layer an ultra slippery (Silicone-Based) lube on top of that! This way you get all the benefits of the hydrating, soothing product close to your skin and the ultra slippery, friction-busting qualities of silicone on top of that. 

BONUS: If your sex play may involve penetration, you can use an applicator, like the Lube Shooter, to effortlessly insert Water-Based lubricant up inside the vagina and/or the rectum. 


Sutil Luxe Water-Based Hydrating Lubricant


TOP RECOMMENDATION: This organic Water-Based lubricant is truly one of a kind, thanks to its third ingredient - botanically sourced hyaluronic acid. This ingredient is the key to Sutil's silky feel, skin hydrating properties, and surprising longevity.

Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body as an internal lubricant, hydrating skin, improving skin elasticity and protecting the skin's surface-- All factors vital for cancer survivors. 

 

Überlube Silicone Lubricant


TOP RECOMMENDATION: This hypoallergenic ultra-slippery silicone lubricant will prevent almost all friction. This lube, however, is not hydrating. Überlube, like all Silicone-Based lubricants, is used to provide a slippery layer on top of the skin, without absorbing or dissipating as readily as a Water-Based lube does. 

 

Third Focus

Satisfying, Pleasurable Sex Does Not Require The Same Exact Type of Penetration You Had Previously Grown Accustomed To


It's true! For many folks though, penetration has been such a central part of their sex life that the concept has become synonymous with the definition of "sex" itself. If things aren't "working" exactly like they did before, you don't have to feel that all is lost. There is more than one way to bake a cake! 

  • Size might matter (girth) in this case:

    If the vaginal canal has become restricted, less elastic, and the skin around the opening has become dry and thin, penetration with something the girth of a typical penis might be difficult or impossible- this is very common.

    The hopeful news is that there are therapeutic tools called dilators that many medical providers to prescribe to help improve the condition of the vagina. Smitten Kitten sells a greater range of dilator options than will be available at most clinics. You can work in consultation with your care team to find the right size dilators to help gently massage, and stretch, and rejuvenate these tissues.

    In the mean time, this is a great time to use fingers (instead of a penis or larger toy) for penetrative partner sex. Many people are surprised by how intimate and sexy hand-sex can be! Go slow, use plenty of lubricant and get to know your body and your desires as they are now!

BONUS TIP: HAND-SEX PLUS ORAL SEX PROVIDES MAXIMIZED PLEASURE


Many people enjoy dual-stimulation. This means they are aroused with the simultaneous stimulation of two or more erogenous zones. In this example, gently using fingers for penetration in addition to using your oral skills to pleasure the external portions of the genitals.

As you spend more time doing sexual activities, like oral sex and hand sex, you might find you need to try new positions to make everyone comfortable and able to sustain activities for a longer time. You will thank yourself for adding sexy position aides and bolsters to your bedroom activities!

TOP RECOMMENDATION: Liberator Wedge as illustrated here.

  • Size might matter (length) in this case:

    In some instances the length of the vaginal canal may be shortened in addition to the decrease in elasticity mentioned above. This can cause worry and anxiety for folks who enjoy penis-in-vagina penetration because of the fear of accidentally penetrating too deep and causing pain or discomfort. 

    If this is your experience, you are not alone! In fact, there are a whole category of products designed to help folks customize the "useable" length (meaning length of possible penetration) of a biological penis. These are called "bumpers." 


    OhNut Bumper

    TOP RECOMMENDATION:
    The OhNut bumper system consists of four squishy, stretchy rings that can be worn around the base of a penis or dildo in order to limit the depth of penetration, reducing the risk of uncomfortably deep thrusting so that both partners can relax and focus on pleasure.

    The unique stackable design allows users to easily link together as many or as few rings as you need to achieve the optimal depth. 


  • No Erection? No Problem:

    It is also common for folks experiencing the personal impacts of cancer diagnosis and treatment to have unreliable erections and/or erections that never achieve a rigidity necessary for intercourse. *Due to the significant emotional impacts of a cancer, this can be true for both partners even when only one of you is experiencing cancer first-hand. 

    The surprising news for most folks is that soft penises still feel pleasure, may be aroused and even experience sexual climaxes all the while soft! It's true! Sexual arousal and pleasure are independent of erection. 

    At Smitten Kitten we sell many toys and have lots of ideas about how to pleasure a penis that doesn't always (or ever) experience erections. In fact we have another helpful post on our site entitled "No Erection? No Problem!


    Fun Factory Manta Penis Vibrator

    TOP RECOMMENDATION
    : The Manta features two flexible wings expand to hug the penis, surrounding the most sensitive areas with powerful, resonant vibration. The Manta's unique ring-like shape delivers vibrations that will carry from tip to base, while still leaving plenty of room for other forms of solo or partner stimulation!

 

Fourth Focus

Take All The Time You Need: Arousal May Take Longer and Require More Sustained Stimulation

Real Talk: To achieve arousal and orgasm, many folks require more direct and sustained clitoral stimulation than is even possible without the aid of vibration. The good news is that there are an abundance of choices specifically designed to aid in sexual stimulation! 

We-Vibe Tango X


TOP RECOMMENDATION:
The Tango X is the highest-quality mini-vibe with the deepest, most penetrating vibration profile available. Use the silky rigid tip at different angles and with precise pressure for the most pleasurable experience. We love the added external grip handle for ease of solo or partnered use. 

Dame Pom


TOP RECOMMENDATION:
Dame Pom is a palm-sized, flexible, handheld vibrator. It's ergonomically shaped- very comfortable to hold and easy to use. Notice the gentle curve and little nub contour at the tip. This shape works perfectly for external stimulation of the vulva and clitoris. 

The deep penetrating rumbly motor has five easy-to-use intensity levels and five vibration patterns for arousal and orgasmic pleasure.

 

Ersocillator 2 with Soft Finger Attachment


TOP RECOMMENDATION:
The Eroscillator 2 provides three levels of intensity with a unique push-slide control that is simple and intuitive to use. Unique oscillating motion provides high quality, very intense, clitoral stimulation without the momentarily numbing impact of other strong electric vibes (like wand-styles). This is one of our most highly recommend vibrators and works well for many folks who have difficulty with orgasm. 

Note: The vibration mechanism is actually a very fast oscillating motion (one way and then the other), NOT a simple shaking (back and forth) motion. Very unique!

Note: We highly recommend purchasing the Soft Finger Attachment for versatility (sold separately). 

 

Conclusion

Cancer changes people in both small and profound ways. This applies to sexual desire, sexual functioning, and intimate relationships too! 

These changes, especially if you aren't prepared for them and don't have adequate support, can have an outsize impact on your happiness and your intimate relationships! At Smitten Kitten we are here to support you and offer resources to your care team too.

We understand that while many of your experiences of sex in the context of cancer are very common, YOU are unique! This means that each potential solution will be different based on your individual wants, needs and desires! 

In this post we highlighted a few solutions, workarounds and ideas for common conundrums. However, there are A LOT MORE where that came from! Please let us know how we can help you find pleasure and build the sex life of you have always hoped for!

 

Smitten Kitten