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Discussing Safe Sexual Practices During Cancer Treatment

Joanne Frankel Kelvin
Rebecca Steed
Joy Jarrett
CJON 2014, 18(4), 449-453 DOI: 10.1188/14.CJON.449-453

Physical intimacy can contribute significantly to a person's well-being, but oncology clinicians rarely discuss sexuality with their patients. Lack of knowledge and personal discomfort are widely acknowledged barriers. This article addresses these barriers by outlining steps patients can take during treatment to ensure safe sexual activity. Most patients can be sexually active during treatment, but they need to use safe sexual practices. Patients need to prevent pregnancy, protect themselves from infection, and, if concerned, avoid partner exposure to chemotherapy in semen or vaginal fluids. This article outlines issues to consider when educating patients about sexual activity during cancer treatment and describes strategies for oncology nurses to feel more comfortable initiating these discussions with patients.

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