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Starting a new relationship

1297PA_sex&relationships_12-social activity

After your stem cell transplant you may not feel as confident in your body and appearance as you once did, which means having the confidence to meet new people can be challenging. This section contains help and advice on the following, which will hopefully make starting a new relationship that little bit easier.

Body confidence

Your stem cell transplant and ongoing medication may have changed your appearance or your feelings about it. This could be causing you some concern and you might be anxious about how a new partner reacts to it. Many people find that these feelings are temporary and they regain their confidence as they recover. However it still might help to talk about your concerns with a friend or family member in preparation for starting a new relationship. 

I started to put myself out there more. I started to feel more confident about my body and a bit more confident about who I am. I felt like I’d beaten the MDS and it was behind me.

Emma, who has had two stem cell transplants

You can read more of our patient stories surrounding body image and get a clinical perspective from our lead nurse on the Anthony Nolan blog.


Going on a date with someone you hardly know can be stressful at the best of times but if you want to get back into the dating game after your transplant you can at least control how you go about it:

  • Meet new people through social activities such as a new hobby or volunteering for a charity. You will find this is a more relaxed situation in which to get to know somebody. You can then progress any potential new relationship at your own pace.
  • Look to your friends for inspiration – hopefully they will be able to set you up with someone who you can get along with easily. They might be able to talk to your date about your situation so that you don’t have to worry about bringing up the subject yourself, if that’s what you want.
  • Get involved with people who are experiencing a similar situation. You will find that they have a better understanding of what you are going through which can enable you to open up more easily. Your hospital/transplant centre and charities such as Macmillan organise a number of different support groups that you can join.

If it's someone you know, it's a bit different - if it's a friend of a friend, someone who knows some of your back story, it's not too much of an issue. But if it's a new person, at what point do you tell them about this baggage you've got?

Emma, who has had two stem cell transplants

Sexual problems can also have a big impact on you if you’re single. Read Emma's blog about her experiences with dating post-transplant

When & what to tell people

As your new relationship develops there might not be an obvious time to tell your partner about what you’re going through. It’s probably better to say something before things get too serious, especially if concerns such as fertility need to be talked about.

Unfortunately there’s no right or wrong time to start the conversation but if you feel comfortable and you trust them to act in a supportive way, it’s probably ok. Remember that a loving partner will accept you for who you are. If they can’t do that, they are probably not the right person for you. 

Information published: 24/10/2017
Next review due: 24/10/2020 - review in progress

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Body image

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