Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 10,2017 Womanhood, Femininity and Cancer

This month the #gyncsm community discussed how cancer-related diagnoses affect a women's perception of her femininity and womanhood.

We were happy to welcome some new participants as well as catch up with our regulars. We had 29 participants and over 1.5 million impressions. You may find a transcript of our chat here and additional analytics here.

The following are the topics questions along with some responses. Resources shared during the chat are listed at the end of the post.

T1: Growing up, what did womanhood and femininity mean for you? How did you relate to these ideas?

  • Womanhood / femininity = watching mom makeup high heels pretty clothes
  • I always liked girly things, but never felt limited as a girl. Math/science were always my favorite. But love a good lipstick!
  • city grandma gave me etiquette books - farm grandma led by example could do anything man could. I was tomboy
  • I was never a traditionally"girly" girl--largely because I associated being a girl with being limited/different rules 

T2: How do patients and loved ones react when they learn female organs (ovaries, tubes, uterus, cervix, etc) may need to be removed?

  • It seems to vary from person to person...some women "want everything out/I don't need these organs" to preferring no/minimal surgery 
  • Even though I was in my late 40's when dx . It saddened me to loose what had nurtured my 2 children
  • I know that I have worked with clients who struggle with losing body parts that are so identified as "female."
  •  I'm more concerned with being around for my kids, but I certainly feel the weight of what body change may mean.

T3: How concerned were you with ideas of womanhood, femininity, and body image as you started treatment? Do patients bring this up?

  •  I was surprised to see so little written outside of the breast cancer space on the topic if femininity and cancer...
  • The very large scar - now that bothered me for a long time. Bothered me more than loosing my hair
  • "Treatment" is so nebulous - always wondering when next shoe will drop.
  • although my husband and I had decided not to have more children, I struggled that the option was taken away from me 

T4: In what ways has your diagnosis impacted your relationships, sexuality and your image as a women? Where do you seek support? 

  • The Hystersisters group has some resources and community for those thrown into menopause.
  • @cancerLGBT has good resources including related to HPV, ovarian in lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender
  • I always hope that people facing these choices are getting good mental health support.  

T5: What are some pelvic health resources for those impacted by cancer-related diagnoses?

  • Good resource for some with pelvic radiotherapy side effects, or concerns of them
  • Pelvic physical therapy is something I've only head about recently.
  • Biofeedback PT is commonly used for pelvic floor therapy after childbirth. Impt to find a specially trained therapist
  • one resource is

Patients and caregivers are invited to continue our discussion on the Smart Patients platform at  

We hope you will join us on Wednesday June 14, 2017 at 9:00pmEST as we discuss Radiation Oncology - What is it? When is it used? 

Remember to please tweet things of interest to our community using the #gyncsm hashtag between chats.

See you soon.


#gyncsm Co-founder

"Altered Sexuality and Body Image after Gynecological Cancer Treatment: How Can Psychologists Help?"
"Gender Identity Issues in Online Early-stage Gynecological Patient Discussions"

"Quality of life and psychosocial adjustment in gynecologic cancer survivors"

"Psychosocial adjustment in gynecologic cancer survivors:longitudinal study risk factors for maladjustment"

"Assault on our Womanhood"

Susan Gubar's "Living With Cancer" articles touch on femininity-related issues:

"A Letter To My Gynecologist"

Blog post | "Redefining Womanhood:. A look back at 365 days cancer free…"

"Cancer Treatment and Pelvic Health" By Elizabeth E. Houser, MD

"How Can We Effectively Address the Medical and Psychological Concerns of Survivors of Pelvic Malignancies?"

I Feel Different”: Ovarian Cancer and Sexual Self-Concept “Women's reproductive health”

Video: "Ask The Doctor: Physically I feel good, but I feel sad."

"Post-treatment sexual adjustment following cervical and endometrial cancer"

"Sexuality after gynaecological cancer: A review of the material, intrapsychic, and discursive aspects of treatment on women's sexual-wellbeing"

"Tackling the Impact of Ovarian Cancer"

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