Great Sex After Cancer

Recreating intimacy after major illness

You can experience sexual healing after a devastating illness.

Each autumn, slogans like "Choose blue!" or "Think pink!" abound, along with blue or pink newspaper and magazine sections, advertisements, and supermarket products. These announce the annual advent of National Prostate and Breast Cancer Awareness Months every September and October. However, an important issue is often overlooked at this season, observes Rabbi Ed Weinsberg.

"I appreciate the positive emphasis on the need for medical research and community support," says Weinsberg, who is a prostate cancer survivor, healthcare educator, and certified sexuality counselor with a doctorate in gerontology. "But hardly anyone stresses ways to address cancer survivors' need for greater intimacy, even though most suffer from some form of long-term sexual dysfunction."  

In fact, one-third of the 400,000 Americans diagnosed each year with prostate or breast cancers are Boomers, ages 45 to 65, whose vibrant personal lives are suddenly disrupted.

Rabbi Ed, as he is known, adds, "When it comes to major illnesses like breast and prostate cancer, quality of life issues like improving patients' sexual relationships are generally overlooked, even when specialists address the medical mechanics of sexual rehabilitation."  

To help patients, survivors, and their partners resolve their most intimate concerns, Rabbi Ed has created the Intimacy Development System (IDS). His approach provides ten strategies to reverse survivors' tendency to distance themselves from their spouses or partners due to anxiety about disfigurement or sexual dysfunction.

The most crucial strategy, according to Weinsberg is to "make love," and not just "have sex." He insists that intimacy can develop if partners emphasize "whole-body sex" rather than intercourse alone. As such, he practices and preaches his "S-T-I-C-K" method of sensate-focus, where partners express mutual appreciation and rekindle romance through psychological stroking (S), touching (T) from head to toe, intercourse (I) only if mutually desired, cuddling (C) and kissing (K). Initiating humor and playfulness and "keeping the faith" are equally important.