Decreased libido is one of common side effects of chemotherapy drugs. Many patients complain about lack of sexual desire during and weeks after undergoing cancer treatment. Fortunately, not all chemo drugs cause low sex drive. Most common cancer therapies that are known to lead to decreased libido include treatment for gynecologic cancer, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. That does not mean other chemotherapy drugs and other medications for other types of cancer do not reduce sexual appetite; their effects are lower.
The main objective of chemotherapy agents is to destroy cancer cells in the entire body. They recognize cancer cells by their ability to reproduce anarchically. Unfortunately, non-cancerous cells that multiply rapidly are also affected. This leads, in most patients, to development of a number of side effects – such as feeling sick, weakness, depression, tiredness, lack of energy and low sex drive. These side effects, however, can often be reduced or complete stopped using other medications associated with a healthy diet and lifestyle. In fact, once the chemotherapy is over, the sex drive usually comes back.
Chemotherapy’s Effects on Women
Chemotherapy drugs can also cause low sex drive in women. In some women the therapy can lead to hypoactive sexual desire disorder, serious and persistent lack of interest in sex that affects mood and causes personal distress. This can be due to many reasons. For instance, chemotherapy can reduce the amount of hormones produced by the ovaries, leading to absence or changes in menstrual period.
This temporary chance or absence of menstruation does not mean pregnancy cannot happen. It is therefore important to talk to your doctor about contraception if you do not want to get pregnant. In addition, you don’t have to accept your decreased libido; there are drugs and natural alternatives that can help to increase sexual drive and improve arousal.
The fact that the ovaries reduce their hormonal production, certain women can experience symptoms of early menopause, including hot flushes, irritability, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness and vaginal candidiasis. In fact, vaginal thrush (vaginal Candidiasis) is common in women undergoing chemotherapy, especially those who are taking steroids or antibiotherapy.
Chemotherapy’s Effects on Men
A great majority of men suffer from low sex drive during their cancer treatment due to tiredness and possibly feelings of sickness. For some – mostly those undergoing treatment for prostatecancer or testicular cancer – the impotence is resulted from the direct effect of the therapy that reduces the amount of production of male hormone (testosterone). The good news is that the verity usually returns to normal soon after the end of the therapy. Although possible, it is very difficult for chemotherapy to permanently stop a man’s ability to get and keep an erection. Therefore, see your doctor if after the cancer treatment you still are unable to have a normal erection.
There are a variety of natural ways men who are having low sex drive or are unable to have erection can increase their sexual desire. For instance, taking horny goat weed supplementalong with a healthy diet and a good night sleep (about 7 hours a night) can make a great difference. In addition, fresh organic raw eggs blended with homemade grape juice and honey can also boost libido. Although certain men can neglect sexual intercourse during the therapy, it is important to consider and have sexual pleasure and everything that bring joy. Regularly sexual pleasure has a positive effect on the mood and increase confidence; a good mood helps boosts the immune system, thus necessary during cancer treatment.
Sexual intercourse is encouraged, but pregnancy should be avoided during chemotherapy. Most chemo drugs could harm the developing baby, causing serious health problems. For this reason, it is recommended to use a reliable method of contraception throughout the treatment and for up to a year afterwards.
What You Can Do?
You need to eat foods that increase libido such as:
You can also do the following:
- You need to avoid alcohol and medications that decrease your sex drive: heart medications, anti-depressants, etc.
- It is important to maintain good general health, through diet, exercise and healthy environment; avoiding alcohol and other things that can lead to erectile dysfunction are crucial
- If necessary, you can ask your doctor to prescribe you Sildafenil (Viagara®); it can provide major relief from erectile dysfunction. Sildafenil works by blocking the enzyme PDE-5 which ruins nitric oxide, and allows the penis to sustain a normal erection.
- You need moral support when suffering from decreased libido; therefore, communication with your spouse to help you overcome the problem.
- Rest and relax before initiating sexual activity to minimize fatigue during and afterwards.
- Avoid heavy meals before any sexual intercourse
- About one hour before sexual intercourse, take a warm bath, play soft music to put you in a good mood.
- Do not neglect to use massage oils to rub your partner’s hands, back, or feet .Touching exercises and cuddling may be effective in increase your sex drive.
- Connect with support groups; they help you meet people struggling with the same experiences as you are. Share your experience with others, while they share theirs with you will help you to feel less alone.
- Women who have vaginal dryness can use water based vaginal lubricants such as K-Y jelly, Lubrin, Surgilube or Astroglide, prior to penetration.
- For those who are unable to have a normal erection due to impaired blood circulation, Kegel exercises may help.
- Vacuum devices, and penile implants may be considered if medications and natural alternatives do not work
When to See a Doctor?
If you experience loss of libido, you need to inform your healthcare provider so that you can be prescribed appropriate medications if necessary.