Chemo and Sex: Is it safe for the woman?

Sheila a asked...

Chemo and sex -- is it safe for the woman?

Expert Answer

Bruce A. Feinberg, MD, chief of the Georgia Cancer Specialists, is an oncologist and the author of Breast Cancer Answers and Colon Cancer Answers and a popular speaker on cancer-related topics.

Sex is safe for both the woman and man during chemotherapy, no matter whether it is the woman or man undergoing chemotherapy. Neither cancer nor cancer treatment is contagious in any way.

If it's the woman undergoing chemotherapy, she may notice some dryness or soreness, however, due to irritation of the vaginal mucosa caused by some medications. This is particularly true if the woman's cancer treatment involves taking anti-estrogen therapy, which can cause vaginal dryness. In this case, a water-based lubricant can help ease the problem.

If it's the man undergoing chemotherapy, there shouldn't be any problems for the woman. Because some chemotherapy drugs are excreted in minute amounts in semen, you may wish to use condoms during the first 48 hours after chemotherapy treatment.