ARTICLESChanges in Sexuality and Intimacy After the Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer The Experience of Partners in a Sexual Relationship With a Person With CancerHawkins, Yasmin PhD; Ussher, Jane PhD; Gilbert, Emilee PhD; Perz, Janette PhD; Sandoval, Mirjana BPsych; Sundquist, Kendra EdDAuthor Information Authors' Affiliations: Gender, Culture and Health Research, PsyHealth, School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Drs Hawkins, Ussher, Gilbert, and Perz and Ms Sandoval); and Cancer Council New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia (Dr Sundquist). The larger cross-sectional project evaluating the needs and experiences of informal carers of cancer patients, from which this study was drawn, was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant, LP0560448, in conjunction with the Cancer Council New South Wales, Westmead Hospital, and Carers New South Wales. The chief investigators on the project were Jane Ussher and Phyllis Butow, and the partner investigators were Gerard Wain, Gill Batt, and Kendra Sundquist. Corresponding author: Jane Ussher, PhD, Gender, Culture and Health Research, PsyHealth, School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia ([email protected]). Accepted for publication October 20, 2008. Cancer Nursing: July 2009 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 271-280 doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31819b5a93 Buy Metrics Abstract Changes in sexuality and intimacy after cancer were examined using open-ended questionnaire responses with 156 informal carers who were partners of a person with cancer. Interviews were conducted with 20 participants to examine changes in depth. Seventy-six percent of partners of a person with "nonreproductive" cancer types and 84% of partners caring for a person with cancer involving "reproductive" sites reported an impact on their sexual relationship. Cessation or decreased frequency of sex and intimacy was reported by 59% of the women and 79% of the men. Renegotiation of sexuality and intimacy after cancer was reported by only 19% of the women and 14% of the men. Reasons for changes to sexuality after cancer were the impact of cancer treatments, exhaustion due to caring, and repositioning of the person with cancer as a patient, not a sexual partner. Changes to sexuality were associated with reports of self-blame, rejection, sadness, anger, and lack of sexual fulfillment. Positive consequences of changes included accepting the changed sexual relationship and having increased closeness and intimacy. These findings reinforce the need to acknowledge the sexual needs of partners as well as people with cancer, by healthcare professionals working in cancer and palliative care. © 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.