Tips for building intimacy during cancer treatment

Tips for building intimacy during cancer treatment

When you hear the word “intimacy,” you can immediately think of sex. But the term actually has a much broader definition that includes emotional bonds, bonding time, and other aspects of the relationship. A healthy level of intimacy is important for any couple, but it can be especially key for couples dealing with cancer, given the critical role that caregivers play in helping their loved ones on their journey. This often means strengthening bonds, communication, and other areas of intimacy, especially when sex becomes more difficult as a result of cancer treatment. “When people are blind, their sense of hearing and smell become stronger to compensate for this loss,” says Tracy Owen, MD, director of survival care at our hospital in Tulsa. “I see the same for privacy. If one area is affected for whatever reason, the other areas should condense and become stronger.”

When sexual relationships become strained during cancer treatment, many people separate from their partners. Instead, Owen says, flex the muscles of intimacy and strengthen other elements of the relationship. “If we are not in a place in our lives where sex can be a part of our world, how can we maintain a healthy and strong relationship without it?” she says. He suggests focusing on the other four areas of intimacy, which he describes as emotional, intellectual, experiential, and spiritual.


The emotional connection you have with your partner, and the proverbial glue that holds the relationship together, helps you deal with the ups and downs of life. It may be the most important area of ​​intimacy, Owen says. In fact, if you don’t have a strong emotional bond with your partner, it can be difficult to foster physical contact. However, communication is not built overnight. It often takes work. “You have to create an atmosphere within your relationship to establish that bond,” Owen says. “You have to feel respected, worthy and trusted. You also have to give your partner that respect, courage, and trust.”


Just because you’re in a relationship with someone doesn’t mean you always agree with everything. Or even most things. What matters is whether you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, ideas, desires, and goals with your partner in a way that makes you feel heard and respected, and whether you make them feel the same way.


In short, experiential intimacy is about merging my life story with our life story. She shares life events and activities together. This does not mean that you have to indulge in everything your partner loves: he or she will love riding a motorcycle; Probably not, but it does mean that from time to time you allow yourself to share something that makes you happy. So maybe you spin a Harley once in a while and he’ll do something you love in return.

my soul

If you have a strong sense of faith, praying, reading daily devotions, and attending services together can strengthen your relationship with your partner. “It’s very hard to hold a grudge toward your partner when you practice spirituality together,” Owen says. “If all other areas of intimacy are in trouble, but the couple has a great spiritual bond, I think there’s a great opportunity there.”

It is also important to note that even if sexual intimacy is off the table, non-sexual intercourse is not. “Couples can have a healthy, prosperous marriage without sex, but they still need to be able to touch their partners and feel a physical connection,” Owen says. Holding hands and hugs are good examples. Also, be sure to seek professional help if you need it. “Help is available if you have a specific issue with cancer treatment, whether it’s physical or emotional,” he says. “Patients generally tolerate treatment better and do better when they are more emotionally reactive and safer.”

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