‘Very few people are happy to openly talk about sex, libido and relationships, so it's even more important that I try to bring this topic into conversation’
Hayley, Anthony Nolan Lead Nurse
For a lot of people, their primary concern after their stem cell transplant is to feel better. Understandably during this time, focus is placed on recovery – and some of the important things that help us to enjoy life can get forgotten about.
Whether you are in a relationship or not, sex is an important factor in this. It provides pleasure, relieves stress and helps create a deeper intimacy with your partner. Since your stem cell transplant you may be experiencing physical or emotional difficulties that mean you are not as comfortable having sex as you once were; it might even be painful to have sex. These changes can cause anxiety and emotional distress that can sometimes put a strain on your relationship and affect your mental wellbeing.
This section will give you a better understanding of the physical problems that can affect your sex life following your stem cell transplant and the treatments that can help. It will explore some of the emotional concerns you might have surrounding your existing relationship or when thinking about starting a new one.
We also have information for your partner, explaining how your current medical situation might affect your relationship from their perspective.
Your sex life and relationship are not the easiest things to talk about with your medical team. Often the hardest part is finding a way to start the conversation. Hopefully this section will give you the confidence and information you need to introduce the topic of sex with them. Your transplant team is used to talking to people about all aspects of stem cell transplant treatment and will be able to provide support for you and your partner.
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‘I think people have to do what's right for them, but I'd say having good communication with your clinicians about the ways in which your body will change can be helpful. Let your team know if there are things concerning you.’
Louise, who had a transplant in 2014