A common question that I get in emails through my blog or DMs from women about to undergo prophylactic mastectomies is: Was it hard to be intimate with your partner after the surgery? It’s a wonderful question and I’m so glad I put off that vibe to people… to be a safe person to ask, because, am I ever!! I can only speak for myself. Everyone’s experience is tremendously different and I can’t stress that enough. Here’s my experience with the birds and the bees and mastectomies.
It WAS something I was concerned about. When I made the decision to get my mastectomy I knew it was the right thing to do but I knew it didn’t affect only me. My husband would have to take on a lot of the weight of my procedure. I did wonder… “What would a mastectomy do to our sex life? Would I feel okay with my scars, my expanders, bruises, stitches and everything else? Would I have the confidence to feel sexy while in-between having breasts? When will I be physically able to? Would he be able to get into it and still love my body even though it was changing!?” Well. There’s not one clear cut answer. There are many phases through out a mastectomy and reconstruction process.
I did a nude photoshoot with my body painted in gold to immortalize my breasts 2 day before my mastectomy. Tim and I bid farewell to them (tee-hee) and then the first surgery happened. Intimacy has many faces. Directly following the surgery when I couldn’t use my arms or be bumped ~intimacy~ became… my husband gently lifting me from bed and helping me use the bathroom, telling me that I was brave and strong, checking and unclogging my drain tubes that stuck out the sides of my body. Sex wasn’t even on our minds, the first few weeks were just so busy for him and so focused for me on healing and trying to get my strength back. So there was like a 3 week stretch of time that was just too much of a blur to even think about sex. So let’s get to the juicy stuff! Ha!
It was all about communication. I was almost nervous after not having sex for a few weeks like “How do I initiate this!?” Turns out it was pretty easy! My husband was on the same page. We had been communicating our wants. In this phase we were both very openly saying how we couldn’t wait to have sex again! I was able to eventually masterbate and see how my body reacted to orgasming and that felt like a good step in the right direction to being able to be sexually intimate with my husband again. Once my body was feeling physically okay enough I was ready but I didn’t take my shirt off. I wrapped my chest up tight to avoid bouncing/painful jiggling and it went great! Friendly reminders to keep hands off my chest were crucial, and positions that didn’t require too much arm strength for a while and we were set! After a few times and my bruising and swelling fading away and feeling in my groove I was ready to take my shirt off and just own my body the way it was. My husband didn’t bat an eye, told me I was beautiful and sexy and it wasn’t even some big dramatic production. It was perfect. (For me.)
So much of sexiness is simply how you feel about yourself. It shines out from inside and I was able to accept my breasts in their transitional state for what they were and they made me feel even more badass. It was a deep level of love and sacrifice that we each had to go through with this process and it only made us stronger.
If you’re not ready, give yourself time. It will be better for both of you if you wait until you can really enjoy it and don’t rush yourself. This is all about you! Not your partner’s pleasure but yours at this point. It’s not selfish, it’s important for your health. Your physical, mental and sexual health. They’ll understand. If they don’t and if they’re pressuring and guilt tripping you… I’d highly suggest telling them to go “sexually intercourse” themselves and never come near you again. That’s a different blog post entirely I suppose.
Today with my new silicone implants all systems are go! I’m 3 months post surgery and don’t experience any discomfort. My husband can grab them and play freely! I have dramatically decreased physical sensation at the moment but the nerves will regrow. I believe the rate is anywhere between one centimeter to an inch per month. I feel confident with my appearance and my husband sees me through magic love eyes so that really truly helped us stay bonded and intimate through out this process.
Communication and a positive mental attitude and looking at yourself lovingly in the mirror are all very helpful things while navigating mastectomies and a sex life! Don’t be ashamed of your body. Be amazed by it. Go look at your boobs right now, mastectomy or no mastectomy- everybody- go to the mirror and say “Damn those are some cool boobs. They’ve been through so much. (We’ve all had our boob battles… gravity, breast feeding, weight loss or gain) Like, “What’s up warrior boobs!?” Strength is sexy. Whatever you want to say. Probably not any of that ha. It doesn’t matter what you say just say it with confidence and love and believe it! Embrace yourself in this moment and know that you’re gorgeous. Look at yourself with magic love eyes.
And strut your stuff!