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Table 5 Emotional consequences of changes to sexuality after cancer

From: Perceived causes and consequences of sexual changes after cancer for women and men: a mixed method study

Disappointment I am disappointed in the loss of an almost perfect sexual relationship. (W, 68, hetero, breast)
  Disappointed. Feelings of loss and some resentment. Helplessness and hopelessness. (W, 58, hetero, breast)
  Disappointment that I am unable to enjoy and provide a sexual relationship as previously (W, 38, hetero, breast)
  Disappointed & frustrated. I went from being a healthy happy young woman to struggling with pain, unhappiness & fatigue most of the time with no-one interested anytime I express myself (W, 47, hetero, breast)
Frustration and anger It’s horrible. I feel ripped off (W, 42, hetero, digestive/gastrointestinal)
  I feel like a failure and frustrated that this part of my life isn’t working like it used to. I’m angry that cancer has affected this too (W, 41, hetero, breast)
  I get annoyed that I can’t have sex anymore due to a large reduction in the size of my penis. (M, 62, hetero, prostate)
Sadness and depression The loss of sexual function depresses me to the extent that life is meaningless and sometimes moves me toward suicide. If it was not for my wife and family and the effect my suicide would have on them I would have ended it long ago. (M, 71, hetero, prostate)
  The changes in our sex life have made me feel sad, not as sexy, and have caused us to be, I believe, less close. (W, 41, hetero, breast)
  I feel very sad, I miss the intimacy & closeness we use to have 12 years ago. My cancer 4 years ago has made the situation more difficult - my partner now sleeps in another bed & bedroom. I am heartbroken. (W, 51, hetero, breast)
Inadequacy I feel inadequate – unable to express myself – and a whole heap of stuff that I am dealing with (M, 53, gay, prostate)
  Inadequate, physical horror with no breasts, angry, depressed (W, 71, hetero, breast)
  I feel like I have lost my femininity, first cancer mastectomy, ovaries removed, now loss of sexual desire (W, 35, hetero, breast)
  Inadequate, concerned that my partner thinks less of me, failing her, less complete (M, 59, hetero, prostate)
  Inadequate, incompetent, not worthy of the love and support of my wife, very sad, depressed that I cannot have sex with my wife, I feel useless to my wife. My wife would be better off without me. (M, 54, hetero, haematological/blood)
  My view of my masculinity has slumped (M, 65, hetero, prostate)
  Feeling less of a man (M, 65, hetero, prostate)
Feeling unattractive My body looks and feels different and I have lost confidence in my body image. I don’t feel attractive and no longer have any desire to have a sexual relationship. (W, 50, hetero, breast)
  Cancer has impacted on how I view myself as a woman. Eg: hair loss is unattractive, Hickman line in place for months. My confidence in my appearance was lessened and I wondered how my boyfriend could possibly want to go near me. (W, 23, hetero, haematological/blood)
  I feel unsexy and self-conscious about my breasts. I worry that it will cause my partner to be disgusted by me. I’ve become a totally different person sexually and consider myself very unattractive. (W, 42, hetero, breast)
  I have gained weight so feel unattractive (W, 36, hetero, head and neck)
  Increased confidence in self. Appreciate life (W, 40, hetero, breast)
Increased confidence and self-comfort I am more loving and more confident about life in general (W, 46, hetero, breast)
  My sexuality has changed for the better, I feel better about myself after cancer more accepting of my sexuality (W, 40, hetero, breast)
  I feel better about myself and my relationship since cancer (W, 41, hetero, breast)
  Freer. More alive. (W, 57, hetero, breast)
  I’m more comfortable with my body and self since the onset of cancer - I think because I’m on a big health kick and am in better shape than before - also less willing to let little things upset me, so if anything, our relationship is better. (W, 43, hetero, breast)