Not every woman will experience sexual wellbeing problems after breast cancer, however, many women do find that their sexual wellbeing is changed by breast cancer and its treatments.
If you have sexual wellbeing concerns, it might be helpful to talk to a health professional. As difficult as these conversations can be, there are people who can help you.
To begin, you might like to talk to your GP or breast care nurse. He or she may be able to provide advice and recommend strategies that have worked for other women. He or she may also be able to recommend a counsellor, sex therapist or psychologist who can provide further support if you need it.
If you decide that you would like professional advice, you may like to talk to a social worker, counsellor or psychologist. The treatment costs charged by these professionals can be subsidised by Medicare if you have a GP Mental Health Treatment plan drawn up by your GP. This plan entitles you up to 10 Medicare subsidised appointments with a specialist mental health worker. For more information about this scheme, talk to your GP.
It’s likely that the Medicare rebate will not fully cover the cost of the appointment. Therefore, you may like to ask if there will be an extra cost for you before you make the appointment.
The following information lists organisations which may be able to help you to find a sexual wellbeing expert in your area. Our online Local Services Directory also lists organisations and individuals who may be helpful.
Each of the public women’s hospitals in Australia’s capital cities operates a free sexual wellbeing clinic. You may want to talk to your GP about obtaining a referral to the clinic that’s located near you.
Relationships Australia offers relationship counselling as well as a range of specialist counselling services. Most of the counselling services are conducted face-to-face, however they also have some online and telephone counselling options for people in remote areas.
Fees for counselling services are negotiable. To find out more about counselling services or to make an appointment, contact Relationships Australia in your state or territory on 1300 364 277.
Australian Counselling Association
The Australian Counselling Association (ACA) is the national professional peak association of counsellors and psychotherapists. You can search for a counsellor near you with expertise in ‘Sex Therapy’ on the ACA’s website. Alternatively, you may like to phone the ACA on 1300 784 333.
Australian Psychological Society
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia.
The APS website features a ‘Find a Psychologist’ search function to help you locate a psychologist in your area with expertise in ‘sexual difficulties’. You are also able to use the Find a Psychologist search function to locate a Medicare Psychologist or Medicare Clinical Psychologist. Alternatively you may like to contact the APS on 1800 333 497.
Society of Australian Sexologists
The Society of Australian Sexologists Ltd is the National organisation, representing health and allied health professionals working in the area of sex therapy, sexual health/sexology.
For more information or to find a counsellor in your state or territory, visit the society's website.
The following organisations may also be of assistance:
- Cancer Council Helpline - The Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free, confidential information and support service provided by Cancer Councils in each state and territory. Trained staff can provide support and are available to speak about personal matters such as emotions and cancer, body image, sexual wellbeing and relationships throughout the cancer experience.
- Cancer Council Connect - Cancer Council Connect is a one-to-one telephone support program that puts you in touch with a specially trained volunteer who has had a similar cancer and treatment. The volunteer can listen to your concerns and through a shared understanding, provide emotional support to assist you through your cancer experience. To find out more, phone the Cancer Council 13 11 20.
- BCNA's Breast cancer and sexual wellbeing booklet has a extensive list of supports available, as well as resources that may be of help.