We write about cancer quite a bit because, well, it's a topic that hits pretty damn close to home for many of us. However, as a society, we don't focus much on the the sexual well-being of survivors. For millions of women, though, this is a question that's of immediate interest. The Yale School of Medicine's Sexuality Intimacy and Menopause Clinic at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven (phew!) is providing a place to do just that — teaching survivors how to embrace every aspect of their lives, including their sexuality.
The clinic is the brainchild of gynecologists Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, who specializes in menopause, and Dr. Elena Ratne, who specializes in oncology. They teamed up with a psychologist to "provide interdisciplinary care to cancer survivors."
Many survivors have been so focused on getting through difficult treatment, that other aspects of their lives get pushed to the side. It's inevitable. Dr. Ratner shares the tale of a woman who hadn't had sex in eight years — in examples like that, this type of therapy can approach the issue from all sides, providing a comforting, safe place for women to explore again.
After a thorough evaluation, the specialists offer women a wide array of services, including acupuncture, individual or couples counseling, medical and herbal remedies, Reiki, and even a Zumba class designed for cancer survivors.
Very cool. According to the CDC, there are over six million American women cancer survivors, so programs like this could be invaluable to a great number of people.
The clinic is expanding to serve more women, and Dr. Ratner sees that as a positive sign for women survivors. "We're making this OK for providers to talk about," she says. "We're making this OK for women to talk about."
Image via Samuel Borges Photography / Shutterstock.