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Making time for intimacy after a brain tumour diagnosis

It’s easy for intimacy to take a back seat when you’re dealing with the physical, emotional and practical effects of a brain tumour diagnosis,

Fatigue, money worries, anxiety and depression can affect both partners equally. These can make it hard to prioritise the everyday intimate moments you normally share with your partner – from talking through your private thoughts or having a cuddle to just asking “How was your day?”

I can’t recommend the Relationship Support Service highly enough to help navigate the tricky ways in which a brain tumour diagnosis can impact on a relationship.

Intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex, but the effects of a brain tumour can make it harder to feel romantic. Physical and cognitive difficulties can all play their part, but there may be issues around body image too.

Bloating and weight gain are both common side-effects of treatments for brain tumours. It’s normal to feel self-conscious about the scars from neurosurgery or hair loss after chemotherapy.

“I feel like a woman again, not just a patient.”

Jen and Callum talk about why her brain tumour diagnosis hasn’t stopped their romance.

It can be difficult to talk about sex and intimacy at the best of times, but communication can also be made harder by the effects of a brain tumour.

I felt better after having those conversations because my own guilt, about not being in the mood for sex, didn't hang over me every day. Read Beth's story

You don’t need to go through this alone though. Relate offer a wide range of content to help people experiencing relationship difficulties and we’ve teamed up with them to provide our Relationship Support Service for couples and individuals whose relationship has been affected by a brain tumour.

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We know that, sadly, some people in our community have seen changes in their loved ones that have led to them being violent or aggressive, although this is rare. 

These changes can seem even more worrying in the current situation, but it’s important to remember that if this is something you’re experiencing, your safety is paramount and the current social distancing (or isolation) rules don’t apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic violence.

If you feel you’re at risk of abuse, remember there’s help and support available, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services.

You are not alone!

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This content and our relationship counselling service have been created in partnership with Relate, the leading relationships charity in England and Wales. If you found this information useful, you might also find the following resources by Relate interesting:

This content and our Relationship Support Service has been created in partnership with Relate – the leading relationships charity in England and Wales.

A member of our Support & Information Team provides support over the phone to somebody affected by a brain tumour diagnosis

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If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.