Having cancer changes everything.
But what it shouldn’t change is your ability to touch and be touched.
Staying physically connected to yourself and the one you love is so important when you’re going through a life-changing event.
But cancer treatments can make that difficult, causing a host of side effects that impact libido and sexual wellness.
Tiffany Yelverton is a master sex coach and intimacy consultant who works with cancer survivors to rebuild intimacy.
In this week’s YBTV interview, she shares tips for dealing with vaginal dryness, painful sex, feeling disconnected from your body, and rebuilding your connection with your partner.
You’ll also get a free sensate touch activity to help you connect to your body in a way that boosts your confidence and self-love.
What You’ll Learn
Did your doctor talk to you about how cancer treatment was going to affect your sex life?
Many patients NEVER have that conversation.
“After money, sex is the #1 thing that survivors are concerned about,” Tiffany says, “and many doctors don’t really discuss it.”
Not because cancer treatments have no impact on intimacy—they DO—but because many doctors don’t know what to say.
The doctors Tiffany works with tell her they got about 6 hours of sex education in medical school.
So when a patient is concerned about, say, the way a mastectomy will impact her sex life, some doctors can be dismissive.
“I’ve had oncologists tell my clients, ‘Oh, it’s just a breast, get over it,'” Tiffany says. “It would be like a man having his testicles cut off and [the doctor say], ‘It’s just your testicles. It’s no big deal.'”
That’s why good doctors bring together experts in areas they’re not familiar with—nutrition, mental health, sexuality—to support their patients’ wellness during recovery.
Through her foundation Sexy Survivors, Tiffany works with Hope Hospital in Southern California in their Breast Cancer Survivorship Group.
Thanks to an amazing oncologist and breast surgeon, the hospital has pioneered a program where experts come together to support women in rebuilding their life after cancer.
Don’t Give Up Touch
Tiffany doesn’t just support cancer survivors.
She works with anyone who’s experienced a life-altering or traumatic event.
Whenever anything BIG happens to your body—whether it’s infertility treatments, miscarriage, menopause, or even returning from combat…
It affects the way you relate to your body.
You can find yourself putting off physical intimacy.
Tiffany helps her clients reintroduce intimacy “in a way that everybody can get what they want and feel nurtured and whole.”
She helps them see the importance of touch in their lives.
Touch creates oxytocin, which helps you connect with your partner. Touch helps you with self-confidence and body love.
Plus, there are many health benefits to sex: for your mental health, your heart health, your sleep patterns, and your immunity.
Obstacles to Sex after Cancer
Cancer treatments come with a host of side effects that make intimacy challenging.
Most women go through artificial menopause as a result of chemotherapy, which affects libido.
Then there’s vaginal dryness….
Not to mention the impact of surgery. If a woman has had her breasts or ovaries removed, she can feel that part of her femininity has been taken away.
“You have to learn to love your body again and to embrace what has happened,” Tiffany says.
That can take time. At first, it may feel like your body has betrayed you.
Acknowledge those feelings, but don’t stop there.
Really appreciate and be grateful to and thank your body. Thank your body for being there for you. Because even though you feel that it’s given up on you and that it’s betrayed you, it is still there.”
Every part of you tells a story of your life. Every scar that you may see as a flaw, it’s a beauty mark and a tiger stripe of what you’ve gone through and what you’ve experienced.”
A good way to start reconnecting with your body is by practicing self-touch.
Work on “getting back into your body, and feeling what touch feels like, and what good touch feels like as opposed to invasive touch.”
» Want some guidance? Get Tiffany’s FREE sensate touch activity.
Reconnecting with Your Partner
Sometimes, a woman is ready to become intimate with her partner again, but her partner holds back because he’s afraid that his touch might hurt her.
Tiffany recommends starting out with a conversation. Talk about what feels good and what feels uncomfortable.
Then begin with sensual touch, avoiding the genital region.
“It’s really important to throw out the window what you thought sex was before,” Tiffany says. “There are lots of ways to experience sex and intimacy that are outside of what you may consider the actual sex act.”
Look for new erogenous zones. Guide your partner to touch you in new ways.
“You may never get back to where you were before,” Tiffany says, “but you’re going to be in a new place that could even be better.”
Sexual Wellness Products
There are products that can support you as you ease back into your intimate life.
When you haven’t had sex for a long period, you can experience vaginal atrophy, which makes sex painful.
Tiffany recommends trying a high-quality silicone dilator, which is an insertion piece that comes in a range of sizes to help stretch out the vaginal muscle tissue.
Look for non-toxic, body-safe products that won’t disrupt estrogen levels or cause irritation. Tiffany offers a range on her online store Entice Me.
She recommends Sex Butter for vaginal dryness.
“It’s a proprietary blend of essential oils, cocoa butter, shea butter, grape seed extract, and coconut oil [that] actually repairs the cellular walls,” she explains. “It’s oil-based, so it really helps to heal not only that dryness … but it helps your body to naturally produce more moisture.”
If you’d like more personal support, Tiffany also offers online courses as well as one-on-one coaching via Zoom. Find out more.
Love your body, no matter what state it’s in, because it’s you.”
Tiffany is a master sex coach, relationship strategist, and intimacy consultant. She’s the founder and CEO of Entice Me, a resource for anyone who wants to tap into their sexual power to create a life they desire. Her mission to educate and empower people, especially women, to own their sexuality. Find out how you can work with Tiffany.