Hi. I finsihed my internal radiation and had a two week check up afterwards. They told me I have permanent scarring from the radiation. The walls of the vaginal canal will want to fuse together. Since I'm not sexually active (Hare Krishna), my vagina will close. So they gave me a plastic cylinder to insert twice a week for 10 minutes.....for the rest of my life. Or at least for the next few years. I had cancer, so I will have to have pelvic exams every few months for a couple years. I had never heard of this before. I thought it was funny, and laughed at the doctors office. The doctors laughed too. Everyone laughed. I wonder why?
I'm going through chemo and external radiation right now. Will have internal radiation (brachytherapy) in about three weeks' time. I too heard that the vagina will get less stretchy, which may interfere with sex. I don't think this is a laughing matter at all. In fact, I've made this a mjaor issue in my talks with DRs. I lost my husband six years ago and I'm now having a wonderful relationship with my BF for the past two years, which I do not want to jeopardize. I was very serious in addressing that issue and no one dared to laugh!!!! Do take it seriously, you may not be sexually active right now but you want to keep this option open. Intimacy is important.
All the best to you,
It is standard after radiation for a woman to be given the dilator to keep the vagina open. Not only can sex be difficult but even if you never want to have sex again the vagina needs to be wide enough to have a comfortable exam. Exams will be important and pap smears have to be done to watch for abnormal cells in the vagina. Using the dilator is not that bad but if you don't use it your follow up exams can be painful.
My radiation oncologist mentioned this at the first appointment with her. My gyn/onc also talked about it. If you ever want to have sex again, and painless internal exams, it is very important that you keep the vagina open and lubricated. My doctor said I would need to have sex every week or so or use the dialator. Usually I use the husband which has worked well. Sex is just like it always was. I finished 25 internal rads and 1 very long external rad a year ago. But I took what they said seriously and you should too. You never know, you could get married in the future and want to have sex. Plus, you need to do it so your doctor can examine you for recurrences.
I can't imagine why your doctors laughed. That's very strange.
Now it's not such a big deal. Just kinda one of those things that needs to be done, like shaving your legs
I am married, and although Hubby would gladly 'take care of the chore' hahahaha.....it is still very uncomfortable for me. So 'in between' romantic times, the dilator must be used. I cannot imagine how terribly hurtful a pelvic exam would be if I did not keep it open.
My hysterectomy was what they call a radical. The top one third of the vagina was removed. So it's already too danged 'short', I sure don't need it closing up!!!
My rads ended Jan. 5 2004 and last chemo was April 28. I've still got alot of healing to do.
I have to admit,I kinda chuckled,too. But for different reasons. I`ve been w/my BF for almost 14 yrs.,relationship was in the pot before all this because I could care less about sex,but I have a pretty good relationship w/the rad.nurse & she explained how painful exams can be w/o dialation...so I guess I`ll try both,altho the thought of either doesn`t thrill me.
I want to thank you all for openly sharing your experiences regarding internal (brachytherapy) radiation and especially with the use of the dilator. Prior to my internal radiation, reading many of your postings helped prepare my expectations for the treatments. Even with that I was still disappointed and a little embarassed when my radiologist gave me a dilator and instructed me to use it daily for the next 6 months until my next checkup. Noticing my disappointment, the radiologist explained it was necessary to use the dilator in order to minimize any scarring that would make future internal examinations for cancer recurrence difficult. I was not told I would need to use the dilator forever so I will be asking that question at my next check up.
Thank you so much for your openness and honesty in sharing your experiences and helping those of us following in your footsteps.
Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. I'm starting Brachytherapy in 18 days. Have to have 3 treatments. The radiology nurse did tell us we'd have to have sex 3 times a week or use the dialator "the rest of my life"! I'm just hoping it won't be painful having sex anyway...I think it really is an important part of intimacy and I definitely don't won't to lose that!!!
Hi Ladies - Me again. I feel normal. Five months after radical hysterectomy and radiation treatments. I had the first of my three month check ups, last week. The Dr never called back, so I assume all is clear, so far. I'm lazy about using the dilator, though. I only use it once a week. My examination was not anymore uncomfortable than usual, so I guess it's ok to use just once a week, eh? Any feed back? Please write if you do. Thanks!
Hare Krsna, love, Martha