How Do I Resume Lovemaking After Cervical Cancer Treatment?

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Sex & Sexuality

Dear Dr. Northrup,

I am 54 and went through menopause while being treated for cervical cancer. (My blood tests indicate that I am now post-menopausal.) After treatment, I was given a dilator to keep my vagina open and wide enough for sexual intercourse. However, it is now painful even with the dilator. I have tried lubrication of all sorts, but when we make love I always experience some abrasion and spotting (of blood). My gynecologist gave me Premarin cream, but instead of giving me relief, it causes hot flashes for several days as well as sleep loss. I have gone to several gynecologists looking for an answer, but their only suggestion is prescription hormones. I would appreciate any suggestions you have. My husband is concerned that he might hurt me and is avoiding sex altogether.

Thank you – S.D.

Dear S.D.,

The good news is that the tissues of your body are considered “plastic” and can therefore return to near normal function with regular use. I have no idea why the Premarin cream would result in hot flashes. It should do the opposite. Although, for the first few days, while the estrogen receptors are changing, it may be triggering hot flashes. Instead of Premarin cream, I would recommend estriol vaginal cream. It has minimal systemic effects, but is highly estrogenic in the vaginal tissue itself. Currently, it’s available with a prescription from a formulary pharmacy. Your healthcare provider can easily write this prescription for you. And it’s safer than the other estrogens in those who have had cancer.

It will take a week or so for the vaginal tissue to be restored and a bit longer for the upper most part of the vagina to dilate. In the meantime, I urge you to consider lovemaking through oral or manual stimulation of your clitoris. This can be very satisfying and is a good way to keep the blood flow optimal in your pelvis. Plus your husband won’t have to worry about hurting you. Continue using a lubricant, as long as it feels good to you. This should help a lot. Please also enjoy The Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive Orgasm by Steve and Vera Bodansky. This book will give you lots of good information that can improve your sex life dramatically—with or without intercourse. If you feel comfortable with this suggestion, I also recommend that you purchase a soft, rubber, life-like dildo (a phallic-shaped sex toy) to practice with—with either aroused or non-aroused energy.

Here’s the bottom line: Energy follows awareness. And our physical body and tissues respond to awareness over time. Believe me, you can train your body to have better sex than you’ve ever had in your life. Another book to help you on this journey is Women’s Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasure by Sheri Winston.

You have become a virgin once again—in a very real sense. Now you have a magnificent opportunity to reinvent your sexual and sensual life.

Enjoy – C.N.

Last Updated: May 17, 2010

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

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  1. Karol Chernich
    3 years ago

    I have had this disorder for over 3 years and have been helped with low doces of elival and lyrica. I am still afraid of intercourse since the disorder was so painful,
    Please give me some advice to continue sex while still tender. I also use vagafim now 2 times a week.
    Thank you

  2. Debbie bernhard
    3 years ago

    My husband and I have basically given up on penetration even his finger is irritating like stinging and when we try full intercourse it is excruciating
    We enjoy oral sex and he actually bought me a tiny penis shaped vibrator and we have fun with that but I’m only 65 and I would like to get my love life back. I take nothing at this time and even most lubricants sting and burn! Was on vaginal eestriol cream for several years but have been taking a break. Any advice?

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