The diagnosis of breast cancer represents a stop in a woman’s life.
Facing the disease, having to undergo different treatments that may leave physical sequelae or have significant side effects, and managing the emotions involved in the process put previous life projects on hold.
At the same time, the involvement of the breast adds that the diagnosis of cancer can also have an impact on a woman’s femininity and eroticism and on her maternity.
The improvement in the early diagnosis of cancer, in the knowledge of the biology of tumors and the development of new treatments have greatly increased the survival of breast cancer, and although more and more cancers are diagnosed in young women, there are also more women who overcome the disease and resume the thread of their lives facing new doubts.
How can cancer affect my sexual relations?
The psychological impact of the diagnosis, changes in body image and the side effects of some treatments can lead to a decrease in libido and cause vaginal dryness that makes intercourse difficult.
The use of vaginal moisturizers and lubricants, vaginal laser treatments, image care measures and psychological support from the partner (or professionals when necessary) are useful to normalize sexuality.
Can I get pregnant if I have had breast cancer?
Some treatments such as chemotherapy or hormone inhibitors can stop ovarian function and withdraw periods during treatment, but up to one in four young women will regain their periods at the end of treatment, and therefore their fertility.
What contraceptive methods can I use if I have had breast cancer?
The reversible methods that are recommended are the copper IUD or the condom, since hormonal methods are contraindicated in women who have had breast cancer.
The occasional use of the “morning after pill” is safe in women who have had breast cancer.
During treatment with Tamoxifen, contraception should also be used.
I want to have children and I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Will I be able to maintain fertility?
It is possible that after cancer treatment, fertility may recover spontaneously, but this is not always the case.
Advances in assisted reproductive techniques allow us to use techniques such as oocyte cryopreservation to preserve the fertility of women who have to undergo cancer treatment, using safe drugs and without delaying the treatment of the disease.
Information and counseling on fertility preservation prior to the start of treatment needs to be part of the comprehensive care of the young woman with cancer.
Is pregnancy after breast cancer safe?
After a treated breast cancer in remission, pregnancy or assisted reproductive techniques do not worsen the prognosis of the disease.
Treatment given for a past cancer does not harm the perinatal outcome of a pregnancy or the subsequent evolution of the babies.
How long to wait to get pregnant after breast cancer?
The recommended time will depend on the age, the initial stage of the disease and the evolution, and individualized advice is needed in each case, but generally speaking a minimum of 2 years of disease-free interval is recommended.
A minimum of 6 months is required from the end of chemotherapy treatment and in the case of taking tamoxifen it must be suspended 6 months before.
Can I breastfeed my baby if I have had breast cancer?
Breastfeeding is not allowed during the treatment, because drugs such as chemotherapy or Tamoxifen could pass into the breast milk and have harmful effects on the baby.
Once the treatment is finished there is no contraindication for breastfeeding, although depending on the type of surgery performed on the affected breast it may be more difficult.
In case of mastectomy breastfeeding can be done with only one breast.
Dr. Cristina Mariné Quesada