Talking about sex

It's awkward to talk about sex. How do I raise the subject with my boyfriend and my care team?

Advice columnist and relationship expert Matt Whyman answers:

Sex is one of those important subjects that we don't often talk about openly.  As a result, it can sometimes feel awkward to put into words. The trouble is if questions or worries arise, which is likely if cancer is having an impact on your life, you won't resolve them by staying silent. This goes for your boyfriend and your care team alike. They can't help if they don't know what you are worried about.

Be honest

All relationships, not just personal ones, thrive on honesty. Your boyfriend should be ready to listen and help with any issues on your mind. Sometimes it helps to write down your feelings and questions before you start a conversation. This can help to get things clearer in your head, so you're able to talk to your boyfriend with more confidence.

The same goes for your professional care team says social work practitioner, Urvashi Tripathi: "They'll be used to talking about such sensitive issues within a confidential environment. Most staff won't feel embarrassed or surprised about your questions. A member of your care team can always refer you to other services that can help and support you. A healthcare professional can also speak to your partner."

Talk, text or email

The key is to pick a moment that feels comfortable for you. It might mean asking to speak in private. Once you've raised the issue you'll realise you're not alone in dealing with this. Help and support is always out there. It really is just a question of asking.

Social worker Simon Darby has this advice: "Write down your questions ahead of time, maybe on your phone, if you're going to talk to someone on your care team. Sometimes it's easier to text or email.

"As a social worker, I would prefer people ask me a difficult question in a way that works for them, than not ask it at all."

Content added: November 2015
Review due: November 2017