Sex After Breast Reconstruction
By: Courtney Floyd
When is it acceptable to resume normal sexual activity after breast reconstruction surgery?
It is not uncommon for the physicians or nurses at PRMA to get asked this question during a post-operative appointment, but I do not think it gets asked enough. Let’s be honest, bringing up the topic of sex can be very uncomfortable for most patients. It’s important to remember though, we are all human and we all “do it.” Your sex life is an important part of the healing journey and should not be overlooked!
There isn't a “text book” timeline for resuming your sex life after surgery, but there are some things to keep in mind before jumping under the sheets.
The most important thing is to listen to your body! After surgery you are going to experience some levels of pain and discomfort. Please, please, please do not engage in intimate activities until your post-surgical pain is minimal enough for you be comfortable. Jumping in too quickly can make the moment uncomfortable to both you and your partner and could make getting in the mood again at a later time more difficult.
The type of reconstructive surgery you had could impact your waiting time. For patients who had a tissue flap, like the DIEP flap, there could be additional swelling or discomfort in the donor site area. It is important to make sure you are comfortable doing normal activities before adding anything frisky. Patients who have tissue expanders or implants should also hold off on sexual activity until swelling and discomfort has reduced and you are comfortable.
Gosh and let’s not forget about those dreaded (but completely necessary) surgical drains. We strongly advise refraining from any kind of excessive physical activing (including intimacy) until they are removed. You don’t want to end up on one of those Emergency Room reality TV shows telling your story of tangled drains!
Getting used to your new body can also be an obstacle to overcome before resuming intimacy with your partner. Rest assured and know you are beautiful and perfect! It may take time to regain confidence with your new reflection but you will get there!
Are you noticing a trend yet? Your comfort is most important. You know your body and are the best judge of when you are ready, but if you are ever unsure, please reach out to your doctor or nurse for clarification.
Again, your sex life is an important part of your healing journey and there may be other obstacles related to your cancer treatments to overcome as well. But, after reconstructive surgery you should be able to get back to normal activity quicker than you might think. Just no hanging from any chandeliers right away!