Ovarian cancer, sex and intimacy
Information about the physical and emotional issues you may experience and how you can get help and support.
Managing early menopause
Your desire for and enjoyment of sex and intimacy is dependent on your general well-being and self-esteem. Investigations and treatment for ovarian cancer are often difficult emotionally and physically. Surgery can cause a number of different physical changes including scars, hormonal changes and for some, a stoma will be an outcome of their surgery. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss, fatigue, tiredness and nausea or vomiting. All these factors can have an impact on how you feel about yourself and this may cause you to feel less comfortable or safe in your body. You may feel disconnected with your body and sex may be the last thing that you want right now. This is completely understandable. Learning to reconnect with your body, understanding what your body likes now and feeling pleasure again at a pace that works for you is really important.
This may be by starting to notice simple pleasant sensations again. For example the feeling of the wind on your face when out for a walk, the smell of flowers, the touch of your hands when putting hand cream on or the feeling of standing barefoot on grass. Having the space to feel pleasure in doing things that you enjoy and being in those moments can help you to reconnect with your body and be the first step in wanting to return to other forms of pleasurable sensations such as intimate touch.
It can really help to process what you have experienced with a counsellor. Speak to your GP or Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) about accessing professional support.
Watch our session on ovarian cancer and body confidence led by Gail, Lead Volunteer at Look Good, Feel Better.
Watch our session on relationships led by Lynn Buckley a Macmillan Gynae-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist and psychosexual therapist.
The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) is the UK’s leading organisation for therapists specialising in sexual and relationship issues. COSRT can also help you find a therapist in NHS or private services in your local area.
Relate provides support for all kinds of relationships. It also offers online help with sex and relationships. In some areas of the UK psychosexual counselling may also be available.
The Institute of Psychosexual Medicine (IPM) provides education, training and research in psychosexual medicine and can help you find a specialist.
For support with body image Look Good Feel Better is a UK wide charity offering free confidence boosting workshops to anyone living with cancer.
Listen to our ovarian cancer, sex and intimacy podcast or read the transcript [PDF], where we answer your questions, talk about what physical and emotional issues you may face and discuss how you can seek help and support
Ovarian cancer, sex and intimacy information sheet
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Next review: June 2026
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Below are a sample of references used for this article if you can request the full list by emailing [email protected]
Macmillan Cancer Support. Changes to your appearance and body image (2019). Accessed 9.11.22
Psychosexual Morbidity in Women with Ovarian Cancer. Logue CA, Pugh J, Jayson G. International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer. 2020; 30:1983–1989. Accessed 31.10.22.
Body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning in women with gynecologic cancer: an integrative review of the literature and implications for research. Wilson CM, McGuire DB, Rodgers BL, Elswick RK, Temkin SM. Cancer Nursing. 2021; 44(5):E252–E286. Accessed 31.10.22.