The Upsetting Reason Cancer Survivors Have Trouble With Sex, According To Science

by Candice Jalili

As if having cancer as a child (or in general) isn't horrible enough, researchers have found the treatments for it can have lasting effects on survivors' social interactions as they get older.

And some of these social interactions include the initiation of sexual and romantic relationships in survivors' adult lives.

A new study found certain group of adults who received cancer treatments as children are having a bit more difficulty in the bedroom than the rest of their peers.

Apparently, survivors who received treatments especially toxic to their nervous systems were having significantly ~tamer~ sex lives.

Just how tame, you ask? Well, let me put it this way: Individuals undergoing this type of treatment were the least likely to have children, a relationship or even sex at all.

So, yeah, these people are less likely to be reaching these milestones... but does that mean they're frustrated with their sex lives?

Well, that's what Vicky Lehman, PhD, of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University, sought to figure out in the study:

Psychosexual development entails reaching certain milestones, such as sexual debut, entering committed relationships, or having children. It is a normative part of becoming an adolescent or young adult, but only comparing such milestones without taking satisfaction into account falls short. These issues are understudied among survivors of childhood cancer.

In an attempt to delve deeper into differences regarding cancer survivors' satisfaction with their sex lives, Lehman and her team recruited 144 childhood cancer survivors and a control group of the same size.

Researchers gave all the participants the same questionnaire, analyzing their sexual and romantic lives and taking into account how much their cancer treatment affected their nervous systems.

Aside from the fact cancer survivors had fewer sex partners throughout their lives, there were otherwise no huge differences between the groups.

Results showed that, despite reaching fewer sexual milestones, the cancer survivors who had undergone more toxic treatments still reported that they were just as happy with their sex lives as their peers were.

So the simple answer is, no, having less sex or fewer relationships didn't really matter to the survivors.

I guess the whole "surviving cancer" thing really puts things in perspective for ya.

Citations: Can childhood cancer treatments affect survivors' sex lives in adulthood? (EurekAlert!)