Latest Trend: Donating Breast Milk?

Is donating breast milk a new trend? Perhaps, not. The sharing of breast milk from one mother to the child of another has been going on for as long as babies have been being born. Without the modern day alternatives currently available, it was often all that stood between life and death for small infants. Milk banks, which are services that collect, screen, process and dispense breast milk by prescription, have been around for more than a hundred years, the first opening in Vienna, Austria in 1909.

Donating breast milk via milk banks began in the U.S. in Boston, in 1919, and other locations opened and expanded the process until the 1980s. This was when the HIV virus was creating its wave of fear and, consequently, many milk banks closed down out of fear of transmitting the deadly virus. Today, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) processes more than a million ounces of milk a year in their 11 milk banks, primarily for at risk newborns.

Not everyone donates breast milk through a milk bank, however, and this is where the current controversy takes hold. For women in earlier times without another option, hardly any risk outweighed a baby starving to death. Today, however, there are alternatives, like formula, and a clear awareness of the very real risks involved. Milk sent to a milk bank is pasteurized, combined with other donors’ milk to balance the components and tested for any sign of contamination. Donors commit to certain restrictions, like no smoking or drinking, and are screened for diseases that might be passed through their milk, such as HIV and hepatitis.

Considering the thoroughness of the process, it’s not surprising that a major limitation of breast milk received through a milk bank is cost, which can be as much as $5 per ounce. Insurance coverage is inconsistent from one state to another and, even when coverage is available, rarely full reimbursement. This explains, at least in part, the burgeoning business being done on the internet where donors can sell extra breast milk, and buyers can purchase for far less than through a milk bank.

Informal exchange of breast milk is expected to grow, despite most of the medical community warning against it. According to Ari Brown, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, “We support breastfeeding, but if you can’t nurse, we recommend breast milk from a milk bank, or that you use formula. Even if you have a good friend who wants to donate milk, you can’t guarantee that it’s free of infections, like HIV. Breast milk is a bodily fluid, just like blood. Would you be willing to give your baby a blood transfusion without first having it tested?” Purchasing breast milk blindly off the internet would be even more rigorously discouraged by healthcare professionals. This, however, competes with the rapidly increasing belief in the health benefits of breast milk and the inability to get it from a source like an official milk bank. Not only does cost make it prohibitive, there simply isn’t adequate supply.

Just as the decision to breast feed is a personal one for the mother, donating and sharing breast milk seems to also fall in the same category. Many women who engage in milk sharing within families and communities find it a very fulfilling and bonding experience. Others cannot imagine even considering the idea of milk sharing. This is a controversy that is likely to continue, at least for the foreseeable future.

 

Is Combining Formula and Breast Feeding Safe?

When you first become pregnant, you learn that there is a set number of pounds that you will gain, nausea is called “morning sickness” because it only strikes in the morning and not to worry because, once the baby is born, you will just know what to do. How often do you suppose that works out?

Unfortunately, even for new mothers who know better than to believe everything they are told or read, there is a very real chance that they will have unrealistic expectations when it comes to breast feeding. There is a phrase that has become very popular, “breast is best”, which is more or less a slogan for advocates of breast feeding. Consensus, even in the medical community, now stands solidly on the side of breast feeding as being the healthy choice, especially for a child’s first year. In addition to providing the best nutrition, breast milk is believed to reduce the risk of serious conditions, like childhood obesity, diabetes, ear infections, needing a disability attorney and many others. While all true, what about mothers who, for one reason or another, are unable to provide adequate milk?

When a young mother quickly begins having difficulty breast feeding it can lead to a feeling of guilt and inadequacy. While no one argues the benefits of breast feeding, there are times when it is either not possible because of some physical problem or a matter of logistics due to time spent away from the baby, like when a mother has to go back to work. Pumping is, of course, one solution but it, too, does not always fill the need. Formula can provide a good alternative. Formula used in combination with and to supplement breast milk can provide a particularly good balance in terms of nutrition and lifestyle issues.

Advantages of Formula

In the first half of the 2oth century, formula was aggressively advertised as being superior to breast milk. The healthcare community actually promoted it over breast milk. Claims of unfair influence by formula manufacturers and lobbyists by breast feeding advocates pushed back and eventually swung the pendulum of opinion against formula. Some of it was undoubtedly deserved but not all. In many cases, formula can provide much-needed nutrition for a baby that is not getting it through breast feeding and a way to balance life’s many demands for mom.

Some specific advantages of using formula include:

  • Convenience – the ability to feed at any time by anyone, such as a spouse, partner, family member or caretaker.
  • Flexibility – formula is available whenever it’s needed without the necessity of working pumping into your schedule.
  • Shared bonding – your partner can also experience the bonding that comes during feedings.
  • Less dietary restrictions – when using formula exclusively, you do not have to avoid eating or drinking something that might adversely affect the baby.

Controversy aside, the main concern should always be that the baby is getting adequate nutrition, closely followed by the sanity and health of the mother. Whether that is accomplished through breast feeding exclusively or some combination of breast feeding and formula turn out to be the best route, should not matter.

If you would like to learn more about baby formula, feel free to watch the following video!

Foods That Help Increase Breast Milk Supply

Have you had your daily requirement of galactagogues? If you are the proud mom of a new baby then working galactagogues, which are foods that promote milk production, into your diet would be a very good idea. Of course, the number one way of increasing milk production is through the nerve stimulation that happens during breast feeding. As your breasts empty during meal time, your body gets the signal to produce more milk. At least, this happens when the sun, moon and stars all align and everything is right with the world. In other words, your system could probably use some assistance in maintaining an optimal supply of breast milk, and there are certain foods that may help make that happen.

Some foods are believed to enhance lactation, which is the secretion of milk by the mammary glands. This list includes many of those foods, some backed by research and others more anecdotal. Besides aiding in increasing milk production, many are healthy for mother and baby in other ways.

  • Oats – loaded with energy and fiber, which aids in digestion. Oats are also believed to help in preventing the onset of diabetes following pregnancy.
  • Salmon – good source of essential fatty acids and Omega-3, both important for lactation.
  • Spinach and beets – dark green leaves contain iron, calcium and folic acid.
  • Carrots – known to improve lactation.
  • Fennel Seeds – also aid in digestion and controlling colic.
  • Fenugreek Seeds – increases milk production and alleviates post-delivery constipation.
  • Bottle Gourd – aids in digestion, normalizing blood sugar levels and hydration, as well as lactation.
  • Basil Leaves – good source of anti-oxidants and have calming effect.
  • Garlic – the lactation super star, plus helps prevent cancer.
  • Barley – also helps keep mother hydrated.
  • Chickpea – good source of energy-boosting protein, calcium, B-complex vitamins and fiber, as well as aiding in milk production.
  • Asparagus – stimulates hormones active in lactation and good source of vitamins A and K and fiber.
  • Brown Rice – stimulates hormones active in lactation and boosts energy for nursing moms.
  • Cumin Seeds – used in moderation, boosts milk supply and aids in digestion.
  • Black Sesame Seeds – also should be used in moderation to increase lactation.
  • Oils and Fats – important for lactation, aids in bowel movements and helps with vitamin and mineral absorption.

Some of the other foods that can aid in milk production include apricots, dill, poppy seeds, almonds, papaya and sweet potatoes. The same food can often affect people in totally different ways so it’s important to pay attention to your own body and how it reacts.  

If improving lactation is the goal, then knowing which foods are antilactogenic, meaning that they can decrease milk supply, is also useful. As you might expect, alcohol is on this list. One infrequent glass of wine won’t bring the lactation process to a screeching halt, but breast feeding is really a good time to order something non-alcoholic. Other foods to avoid include, sage, parsley, peppermint, menthol and chasteberry. Advice to avoid something you aren’t familiar with, like chasteberry, might not seem worthwhile, but chasteberry is often recommended to breastfeeding mothers who have painful swelling and engorgement.

 

Benefits of A Nursing Pillow

So, you think your back hurt while you were pregnant? Wait until you are breast feeding for the 5th or 6th feeding of the day and the muscles in your back and neck start to scream no matter how you try to shift positions. It may not be fair, but, while some women seem to never have a moment’s discomfort while pregnant and have no back problems at all when breast feeding, others are tied in knots with pain from the moment they buy the home pregnancy test.

For some, the time period spent breast feeding can actually be the most difficult when it comes to physical discomfort. Because it is so important to position the baby in such a way as to get a good latch, it often requires lifting and holding the baby’s head and body up and closer to get to the breast. Doing this over and over again can create severe aching in the neck, shoulder, back, hands and wrists

Trying different feeding positions is important. Some will work better than others, depending upon the individual mothers and babies. Switching positions is also a good option to try. It may be tempting to find a favorite and stay with it, but switching and rotating positions puts different muscles to work and lets those that may have been overworked have a chance to rest. Getting as much rest as possible, although never easy with a newborn, will, of course, help, as will working in exercise whenever the chance arises.

While all of these suggestions are certainly worth trying, many women find that using a nursing pillow makes a huge difference for them. Nursing pillows, also called feeding pillows, come in a variety of shapes and styles and are usually designed to go around your waist so that there will be something to support the baby on while breast feeding or bottle feeding.

Benefits of Nursing Pillows for Breast Feeding

  • Provides support and encourages proper feeding position
  • Lifts baby so that the mother does not have to lean forward and lift, which strains back, neck and arms
  • Places and holds baby at correct height for a proper latch, which is essential for nutrition and supply
  • Easier to nurse preemies and twins
  • Protects incision site for cesarean
  • Helps prevent reflux

Nursing pillows may be great for breast feeding, but they also have other uses. During pregnancy, they can be used for supporting the back, as well as placed between the legs or under the stomach to provide some comfort and relief. Down the road a bit, when your baby is between 4-6 months of age, what is now considered a nursing pillow can be put to use as it was originally intended. Today’s nursing pillow is a variation on one that was actually designed to help babies sit up. It becomes a platform to lean on, grab hold of and pull, all the while providing a soft and safe place to land.

Nursing pillows come in a wide range of shapes, from the popular c-shaped Boppy to the ergonomically designed naturally curving pillow. Every baby, website, and mom is different, and you will find this reflected in the different designs.

If you would like to learn more about this subject, please watch the final video:

How The Environment Affects Breasts

Who doesn’t love boobs? Whether you are a baby needing to feed or a grown man who gets his jollies from a nice pair… who doesn’t love boobs?! Believe it or not, the modern world in which we live does not.

Believe it or not, the modern world in which we live does not.

Boobs, breasts, titties, dirty pillows, whatever you want to call them, are the most tumor prone organ in the entire body. Florence Williams, the author of “Breasts: A Natural and UnNatural History” states that breasts soak up pollution like a pair of soft sponges. She further adds that these environmental toxins are then passed through babies when they feed on breast milk.

With genetically modified crops that help protect them against insecticides in Costa County, you’d think that we’d be able to help find something to protect our own bodies besides replacing them with saline and silicone.

The ever growing environmental factors are also contributing to young females developing breasts earlier in age and larger than ever before.

Williams also explores the reason that breasts exist in the first place. For those interested in evolution and biology, from that scientific approach, breasts simply exist due to natural selection. Mammary glands which produce milk for offspring must exist for a species to survive. Do huge breasts that make men fall over upon gazing need to exist? That is left for debate. On one hand, being attractive to the male species to create more offspring is fundamental for survival. On the other hand, humans are the only species to overtly sexualize the breast.

And with so much emphasis on breasts in our culture, there are over 300,000 people a year that get breast implants. But even without surgery, as previously mentioned, boobs are getting larger and larger. A lot of that has to do with the American diet and most of the population being obese. The fat from the diet, the environmental chemicals, birth control pills and other hormone replacement therapies interact with breast tissue and have caused the overall breast cup size in the country to increase. However, even the “skinny” girls are getting their boobs at earlier ages so the whole obesity thing isn’t an exact answer. There are obviously other environmental factors at play.

At What Age Should You Stop Breast Feeding?

Unless you work in the marketing department for one of the infant formula companies, if you have read any of the literature on breastfeeding, it’s hard not to agree with pediatric health experts when they say that when it comes to a newborn’s development, breastfeeding is the way to go. Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits, may actually increase IQ and promotes a strong bond between the mother and child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and then for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Breastfeeding for the first six months is crucial. The World Health Organization recommends that mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth; that infants should be exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health, and thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to be breastfed; and, breastfeeding should continue for up to two years or beyond. 

The World Health Organization

There has been a movement to increase awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and address some of the issues that discourage it. This includes nearly nonexistent workplace accommodation, lack of social support and marketing pressure by companies that have a vested interest in mothers not continuing to breast feed.

Research has shown breastfeeding to be one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Despite the research and these recommendations and the work of breastfeeding advocates, less than 30 percent of American mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for even 6 months. And, this is not an issue just here in the U.S. According to the World Health Organization, there is not a country in the world that meets these standards, but if they did, and breastfeeding was practiced universally, the lives of more than 800,000 children would be saved every year.

Breastfeeding is a global issue, but it is also very much a personal issue. Mothers who want to breastfeed can be overwhelmed by the demands of a new baby. Operating on very little sleep, a new mom starts off feeling unprepared and inadequate and that can either balance out or get worse largely depending upon the amount of support she has. There is a reason that “it takes a village” has become somewhat of a cliché: it happens to be universally true when speaking of childcare, and even more so in the beginning when trying to make decisions about breastfeeding.

At what age should you stop breastfeeding? There is no answer to that question. It is personal and different for every mother and child. Ideally, mothers should have the support to breastfeed her child for as long as it is a positive experience for both of them. Realistically, the answer falls somewhere closer to as long as she can tune out the voices of a society that values convenience over substance. Many obstacles exist for mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding and that does not seem likely to change anytime soon.

Benefits of Breast Feeding Your Baby

“The health effects of breastfeeding are well recognized and apply to mothers and children in developed nations such as the United States as well as to those in developing countries. Breast milk is uniquely suited to the human infant’s nutritional needs and is a live substance with unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children.”  The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding

Despite the fact that there is an ongoing dispute with regard to the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public, there is overwhelming consensus that breastfeeding is not only beneficial to the baby but also to the mother. Breastfeeding is strongly recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The opinions of the Surgeon General and prestigious medical organizations may be important and definitely good to know, but making the decision to breastfeed your baby is a personal one. This is still true despite the well-meaning advice that you will undoubtedly receive from family and friends.  Knowing the benefits of breastfeeding may help in that decision. Research has shown that babies who have been breastfed have reduced risk of:

  • Asthma
  • Respiratory infections
  • Leukemia (during childhood)
  • Obesity (during childhood)
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in premature babies

Although the list isn’t as long, there are also important benefits to the mother. Breastfeeding is instrumental in helping you lose pregnancy weight a bit faster because it does burn extra calories. During the process, the hormone, oxytocin, is released into the mother’s system which helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. There is also evidence that breastfeeding may reduce risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

Economic and Environmental Benefits of Breastfeeding

Not having to buy, measure and warm formula, as well as washing and sterilizing bottles can save money and time that can be spent actually enjoying your baby. But, there are other benefits that most people don’t consider. Breastfeeding contributes not only to the improved health of children and mothers, but also economically and environmentally. If your significant other doesn’t agree with this, you might want to consult a divorce attorney to discuss a prenuptial agreement with https://www.bchanlaw.com/prenuptial-premarital-agreements/

Breast milk is a naturally-renewable resource. It does not require packaging, shipping or disposal, which means that it does not waste scarce resources, create pollution or negatively impact the environment. Because, as the Surgeon General said, breastfeeding protects against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children, healthcare costs are reduced.

It is really hard to find a downside to breastfeeding. There are, nevertheless, individual situations where it may not seem like the right choice. Some women prefer not to breastfeed in public, which can be very restrictive to someone with an otherwise active lifestyle. In the same vein, there is the flexibility that comes from knowing that the father or another caregiver can bottle-feed the baby when mom isn’t immediately available. There’s also the time commitment and structure imposed by being on-call every few hours for six months or longer.

There are many benefits to breastfeeding, including the unique bond that develops between mother and child during this time. That said, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The decision really must be a personal one.

For more information, please watch the following video:

What Foods Should You Eat While Getting Cancer Treatment? 

We are constantly learning more about cancer. There are more and better treatment options available, and there has been a lot of success in increasing survival rates and quality of life. That said, cancer treatment can be really tough. Whether your treatment plan includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or one of the other methods, there are bound to be difficult days. No one will argue that the side effects can be brutal. You need all of the support you can get during this period, and that includes nutritional support.

Making healthy food choices should be an obvious decision. A balance diet, full of healthy, energy-producing nutrients will not only make you feel better, it will also positively affect your recovery. This is not the time to try some new, extreme, fad diet, even if it is being enthusiastically endorsed by your favorite celebrity. Because nutrient needs of cancer patients vary from person to person, your cancer team will be you best source for developing a nutritional plan. You may be surprised how beneficial this can be. Eating well during your cancer treatment may help you…

  • Feel better and maintain energy and strength
  • Control weight, both weight gain and weight loss
  • Better tolerate treatment-related side effects
  • Reduce risk of infection
  • Speed up rate of recovery

Make Healthy Food Choices

Some basic guidelines include:

  • Proteins – during and after cancer treatment, extra protein is usually needed to heal tissues and fight infection. Recommended sources include fish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, low-fat dairy products, nuts, nut butters, dried beans, peas, lentils and soy-based foods.
  • Fats – play an important role in nutrition and serve as a rich source of energy for the body. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats more often than saturated fats or trans fats.
  • Carbohydrates – are the body’s major source of energy. Be sure to choose whole grains that contain all of the essential and naturally occurring nutrients. Other sources of carbohydrates include potatoes, rice, spaghetti, pasta, cereals, corn, peas, and beans.
  • Water – sufficient water and other liquids are important at all time but even more so during cancer treatment. Common side effects are vomiting or diarrhea, which can quickly lead to dehydration without continual replenishment of liquids.
  • Vitamins and minerals – the body needs these to function properly and levels can be disrupted by treatment. You will want to discuss adding these to your diet with your healthcare team.

Foods That May Help with Specific Issues

These are not necessarily proven other than anecdotally:

  • Carrots are said to be a chemotherapy superfood, due to containing compounds that may counteract a mechanism in the body that can interfere with treatment.
  • Rice and bananas may help with chemotherapy-related diarrhea.
  • Ginger and lemon drops help with that queasy stomach that so often follows chemotherapy.
  • Custard can be a good choice if treatment has left you with mouth sores.

There is no hard and fast list of food recommendations because everyone’s journey through cancer treatment is different. Many will lose their appetite, and the goal will simply be to find something they can eat. Others will develop different reactions at different stages. The overall goal to keep in mind is to maintain as nutritionally balanced a diet as can be tolerated, and make sure to consume plenty of liquids.

Breast Cancer Treatment Options

There’s no way around it. Learning that you have breast cancer is still going to be one of the worst days of your life. The initial shock, panic and overwhelming urge to deny that it is really happening will fade somewhat with time, but life is immediately changed. On a more positive note, there are now a wide range of breast cancer treatment options and they are getting better and more effective all the time. In fact, since 1989, the mortality rate for women with breast cancer had dropped by 36%.

Which treatment option that you choose will depend on several factors and be decided in consultation with your oncology team. How far the cancer has spread determines the stage of your disease. Other factors taken into consideration when determining the correct treatment protocols include:

  • Tumor size in relation to the size of the breast
  • Pathology tests results – testing is done for hormone receptors, HER2 receptors, grade of the cells and proliferation rate of the cells
  • Pre- or post-menopause
  • Overall health condition
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Other risk factors suggesting a predisposition for developing breast cancer

Before moving forward with a treatment plan, you will need to decide whether you want to explore the possibility of clinical trials. Standard cancer treatments are those that experts agree are the best options. They have proven useful in fighting breast cancer and are widely accepted and used. Clinical trials involve methods that are being tested. They have been approved for a research study, and there is the belief that there is the potential to improve on the standard treatments. Depending upon how well your particular situation fits the study, there may be the option of being a part of it. Obviously, this offers both great possibility as well as great risk.

Standard Breast Cancer Treatment Options

These treatment methods may be used alone or in combination for breast cancer on Long Island and worldwide.:

  • Surgery – the goal is to remove not only the tumor, but also enough of the margin area to be able to test for any spreading of the cancer. Types of surgery include a lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, radical mastectomy and reconstruction.
  • Chemotherapy – a systemic therapy, meaning that the combination of drugs travel in the bloodstream throughout the entire body, designed to either destroy cancer cells or slow their growth.
  • Radiation therapy – uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which is systemic, only the nearby skin or cells treated with the radiation are affected.
  • Hormone therapy – when cancer cells have hormone receptors, hormone therapy drugs, such as blockers or inhibitors, may be used to destroy cancer cells by cutting off their supply of hormones.
  • Targeted therapy – uses drugs that block the specific breast cancer cells without harming normal cells, often reducing side effects.

In addition, and used in conjunction with the standard protocols, several types of complementary treatment are being used to help control and reduce many of the symptoms of breast cancer as well as side effects of treatment. Some of these are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Music Therapy
  • Yoga

Along with the treatment options that have been determined to be the best fit for you, it will be important to have a plan in place that ensures that you maintain a healthy diet, get a reasonable amount of exercise and have a support system in place to help manage all of the moving pieces and keep you sane.

If you would like to learn more, please watch the following video:

Female Sexual Dysfunction Issues from Breast Cancer

There was a time before pink ribbons. There were no marathons. October was all about jack-o-lanterns and ghosts. Breast cancer, or any type of cancer for that matter, was not something that was openly discussed. Or mentioned. There was something shameful about cancer. As recently as the mid-1900s, people spoke about cancer in whispers and allowed relatives to die in attics rather than let anyone know they had cancer.

Obviously, times have changed. Awareness campaigns have brought this once hidden disease front and center. The entire month of October is dedicated to breast cancer awareness, and the world is seemingly awash in pink. In fact, there is a chart depicting the colors for all of the different types of cancer. The vast majority of people have either experienced a bout with cancer or know someone who has. It is still a dreaded disease, but it no longer carries a stigma of shame.

Except, sometimes it still does. Men have sexual and intimacy issues related to certain types of cancers and women have their own list. Breast cancer is, perhaps the one that affects women the most, if for no other reason than it is so wide-spread. Statistically, 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer sometime during her life. The survival rate gets better all the time but sexual side effects can take their toll long after treatment is over. According to the National Cancer Institute, 50% of women who undergo treatment for breast cancer experience long-term sexual dysfunction.

According to Susan R. Davis, MD, of Victoria, Australia’s Monash University Medical School, “Sexual problems are among the most common and least talked about side effects of breast cancer treatment. About 70% of the women in our study were experiencing a meaningful loss of desire and sexual function a full two years after diagnosis.”

Body image, vaginal dryness and uncertainty about what to expect can play large roles. So, can having premature menopause be brought on by chemotherapy. It can be temporary that lasts during and for a period of time following treatment or it can be permanent. The ovaries stop functioning, and hormone levels plummet over a period of weeks or months rather than over a few years as it does when it happens naturally. Menopause is rarely pleasant, but the suddenness of it happening prematurely can significantly intensify symptoms for younger, premenopausal women.

Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad! Breast cancer may initially put a halt to all thoughts and desires for sex and intimacy but things do not have to stay that way. A lot of women are uncertain or even afraid to have sex. Their partners may also be hesitant for fear of hurting them or being perceived as pushing something to quickly. If this goes on for very long, professional counseling should be considered. For many others, there are some simple ways to move past this roadblock that have proven effective. Some suggestions are:

Vaginal moisturizers – unlike lubricants, which are used during sex, these are absorbed to introduce moisture back into the vaginal area for a period of several days

Lubricants – in addition to the vaginal moisturizers, if there is still a painful sensation during intercourse, lubricants can help

Exercises  Kegel exercises, focusing on tightening and releasing the sphincter muscle, can improve intercourse

If you are experiencing some level of sexual dysfunction during your struggle with breast cancer, know that you aren’t alone. Talk to your doctor. Get a referral for counseling. Talk with your partner and trusted friends. Don’t be silent.