Sex during and after chemotherapy is possible, but you’ll want to take some extra precautions to minimize your risk of infection and keep your partner safe.
Going through chemotherapy is stressful and can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. You may want to maintain as much of your personal life as you can during the treatment, which may include having sex.
Sex during and after chemotherapy is generally safe, though you’ll need to take some extra precautions to protect yourself and your partner.
Sex during chemotherapy is possible for many people, but it’s important that you speak with the healthcare professionals on your treatment team. They can let you know, based on your unique situation, when you can have sex, if it will be safe, and other considerations.
Some considerations pertaining to sex during chemotherapy include:
If sex isn’t an option or not a good option for you, you can stay intimate with your partner in different ways. These can include:
There’s no consensus on when you can safely resume sex after a chemotherapy treatment.
Some suggest waiting 3 days before having sex due to the presence of medications in the blood and bodily fluids. Others suggest that you can safely have sex shortly after treatment but that you should use condoms for at least 1 week.
From a medical perspective, there’s actually no reason to stop having sex during treatment. But it may be possible to expose your partner to the chemo medications, so you’ll want to use condoms or other barriers to help prevent this.
If you have concerns, you should speak with a doctor or other member of your treatment team. They can address specific concerns based on your unique situation.
Chemotherapy can affect fertility, so if you’re planning to get pregnant after treatment, you should discuss this with your doctors prior to starting chemo.
However, despite its potential negative effects on your fertility, it’s still possible to become pregnant during chemotherapy and after. But doctors generally advise people to wait at least 6–12 months before trying to conceive.
During treatments, you should take measures to help ensure you do not get pregnant, such as barrier methods.
Some evidence suggests that you can pass along certain medications used for cancer treatment through your bodily fluids, including saliva, vaginal fluids, or semen.
There isn’t enough research to determine if your partner absorbing some of the medications will cause any issues. But researchers do recommend that you use barrier methods to help minimize your partner’s risk of exposure to medications during your chemotherapy treatments.
If your partner is pregnant, you should either avoid penetrative sex altogether or use a barrier method. It’s possible that the transmission of medications to the developing fetus could cause harm. You should consider talking with a member of your cancer treatment team about sex if your partner is pregnant.
Sex during and after chemotherapy is possible, but you can expect some differences and will need to take extra precautions to ensure safety and enjoyment.
It’s a good idea to speak with a doctor or other member of your treatment team to make sure it’s safe to have sex and discuss any other concerns you may have.
In general, you’ll want to use barrier methods such as condoms, take extra precautions to prevent infections, and anticipate that you may not always feel up to having sex. Remember, there are other ways to stay intimate with your partner if sex isn’t a possibility during your treatment.
Medically reviewed on June 30, 2023
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