Dear Dr. D.,
Sexuality/Sensuality certainly is major for me. I just celebrated my 59th birthday, and am very amazed and glad to be in the 60th year of this wonderful life. However, since a double mastectomy and reconstruction two years ago, have not been “in the mood” for sex with my husband. There have been other huge contributing circumstances, like moving to Nosara Beach, Costa Rica. This move was not my choice, but now that I am here, the natural sensuality of Nature has renewed my interest in finding creative ways to renew our sex life. I totally agree that touch is the golden light of love. So, knowing we need to start somewhere, I have been simply lying next to my husband and feeling his warmth and love. It is a start. So delighted to read your column, and look forward to more sharing and getting real about this. The one time we did sort of play sexually, it was so painful for me, that I just stifled my tears and sadness – trying not to blame my body post hormones!
Trying To Get My Groove Back
Although you’ve moved south, your hormones may not have followed. My first suggestion is to run, not walk to get a hormone test and a good physical. As a result of the mastectomy, you may not have the hormones that your body requires. Your issue may be more physiological than psychological. Very often, post mastectomy, doctors don’t give libido enhancing hormones like estrogen because there may be a link between estrogen and increased cancer risk. Understandably, they err on the side of caution. Thus, you may have a dearth of hormones. So, check out your physical state before you assume it’s anything else.
In Costa Rica, you have access to a variety of health care experts. If one doesn’t work, try one with a different orientation. Be proactive and try Eastern as well as Western medical help. If it’s a hormone issue, there are alternative hormone replacements that many consider less dangerous than the standard methodology. For example, some MD’s prescribe vaginal inserts like Vagifem. Many professionals believe that the closer that the medication gets to the source, the less dangerous it is for your body as it does not have to go through your entire system. (Of course you should ask your doctor about all of these issues before going on any new regimen.) Investigate foods that are natural hormone replacers such as yams, soy, and seaweed. A good homoeopathist or a nutritionist may be able to help you.
Of course, you worry. It’s natural to have fears, feelings and tears. This is a normal and understandable reaction to a situation that many women face. Keep cuddling and talk with your husband about how you feel and what you want. Do you worry if he still loves you without your natural breasts? Do you worry about what he thinks of your new physical appearance, and if you are still sexy? You are a couple in this together, so why go it alone? Hopefully, in time you will feel comfortable in your own skin, and confidence is the sexiest attribute of all. What’s your largest sex organ? Your brain. Do what it takes to make you feel beautiful and whole. (Think sexy bras, nude sunbathing, a day at the spa, yoga, therapy, wine, soft lighting, a tingly lubricant.) Unless all other possibilities have been explored, pain is not an acceptable reason for sex to stop. Desire is a great start. Now do what you need to do – whatever it takes, to get back in the groove.
Life is too hard to do alone – Reach out!
Previously Published in 2008