Women and Cancer
For women, chemotherapy and drugs can rapidly deplete the body of Estrogen
and change hormonal balance. This frequently leads to multiple changes
in vaginal tissues, the pelvic muscles, urinary system, digestive track
and several other systems. Dryness in vaginal tissues can be very painful
during intercourse and lead to sexual dysfunction. Chronic depletion of
estrogen can also lead to vaginal atrophy, or shrinkage of the muscles
surrounding the vagina. These muscles not only contribute to sexual function,
but are also key in bowel and bladder function (urinary urgency, frequency or pain).
Surgeries, especially mastectomies, can also cause severe swelling or "lymphedema"
in the body. Mastectomies can also cause problems and pain in the shoulder,
upper back, neck and arms. Reconstructive breast surgeries can also lead
to problems such as breast or shoulder pain from scarring.
Scarring from abdominal surgeries (after colon, ovarian, or cervical cancers)
can also lead to pelvic problems such as constipation, abdominal pain
and cramping, or even back pain.
Men and Cancer
For males, removal of the prostate (prostatectomy) can lead to scarring
and irritation around the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. The scarring
can also irritate local nerves and can lead to chronic pelvic pain, tailbone
pain, urinary or bowel frequency or incontinence. It can also lead to
sexual dysfunction such as painful intercourse or erectile dysfunction.