The 1.6 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year will likely discover that life with the illness is quite different than it was beforehand. Things may taste, touch and feel differently than they did in the past; some of the simple pleasures you may have taken for granted may not be so simple anymore. However, living with and surviving cancer doesn’t have to signal the end of one’s sex life. With the proper attention to tenderness and care, you can bring the passion back into your bedroom…perhaps better than it was before! Check out these tips from Sexy Ever After: Intimacy Post-Cancer by Patty Brisben (founder of Pure Romance) and Dr. Keri Peterson and get your groove back.

1. Engage in All-Day Foreplay

Use affectionate, physical gestures as a means of gearing up for some later-in-the-day lovin’. A single, quick arm caress right before you mount your partner doesn’t cut it as far as getting her in the mood for full-on intercourse, and lazy foreplay practices come across as even weaker when cancer treatments have messed around with her libido levels. But giving your partner the warm fuzzies throughout the day can leave her with sex on the brain, making her all the more likely to respond to your sexual overtures later on. And these nice gestures don’t have to be limited to the physical. Other things that can be huge turn-ons:help with the housework

  • kind words
  • help with housework
  • pleasant surprises

2. Create Intimate Rituals

Another way to get you and your partner in the mood for sex — aside from those unplanned acts of foreplay — is to create intimate rituals that you can look forward to every day … rituals that make you feel closer, and all sorts of lovey dovey. Perhaps you could share a cup of coffee every morning. Give each other foot massages while watching TV in the evening. Hold hands while taking your daily walk. Anything that helps you feel that you’re much more than two ships passing in the night.

You could even start your day off hot by sexing up that intimate ritual … with bathtub or shower sex. Dim the lights in the bathroom, set up some scented candles, and make sure the water in the shower is steaming hot. Then, undress each other and get cozy beneath the hot spray. Take your time soaping each other up. Allow hands to linger on breasts, inner thighs, genitalia. Give each other scalp massages as you lather up with shampoo. Trade slow, soapy hand jobs or full-body rub-downs.

3. Take Care of That Sexy Body

How others perceive you — and how you perceive yourself — can have a direct effect on your sex life. But the more you take care of your body, the sexier you’ll feel. What should this self-care regimen entail?

For one thing, you should eat mindfully. People tend to binge eat unhealthy and processed foods when they’re feeling stressed or depressed. If you pay closer attention to what you’re eating, in terms of both nutritional value and portion size, you’ll start to feel stronger, slimmer, and generally healthier. Some foods and vitamins (mentioned earlier in the book) can even help replace those vitamins that have been in short supply since your health scare.

You should also exercise regularly. It can be tough to gather up the motivation to sweat, but the benefits outweigh the pain-in-the-butt effort. As mentioned throughout this book, exercise can reduce your stress levels, help you relax, strengthen your body, and also combat many of the side effects associated with cancer treatments. Not only that, but exercise releases endorphins that raise libido levels, and maintaining a strong body can make you feel extra sexy. To make it easier on yourself, choose a workout you enjoy, rather than mindlessly throwing yourself at the treadmill every day. There are tons of workouts out there designed to make you smile, such as hoop dancing, belly dancing, punk rope, and laughing yoga. Pick one you can look forward to, and reap the myriad benefits.

Finally, allow yourself to splurge on some extra-cute outfits and luxe hygiene products. Dressing up can be confidence- and libido-boosting for both men and women, and will cause bereft and confused partners to do a double take.

4. Be Sexually Adventurous

A recent survey found that couples willing to engage in new sexual behaviors were more likely to be satisfied with both their relationship and their sex life. Here’s a few things you could consider:

  • go lingerie shopping together
  • watch an erotic film together, or read aloud from a book of erotica
  • have sex in every single room of the house
  • engage in some mutual masturbation
  • have a frantic, midday quickie
  • flip through a book of kama sutra positions and try out your faves
  • use handcuffs and blindfolds
  • try anal sex
  • play strip poker
  • share your secret sexual fantasies and fetishes, and pick one or two to try out

5. Chase Those Rushing Endorphins

And you shouldn’t only be adventurous in bed. Those arousal-enabling, rushing endorphins can also be achieved through riskier, outside-of-the-bedroom behavior. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of trying out sky diving, or you’ve thought about going for a ride on a hot air balloon. Both fantastic options! Other options include hang gliding, white water rafting, jet skiing, rock climbing, rollerblading, cliff diving, horseback riding, skiing, bungee jumping, paintballing…

6. Strengthen Your PC Muscles

Doing your kegels can help both men and women manage side effects like urinary incontinence, and can also make your orgasms more intense.

7. Share the Love

With each other. Yes. Saying, “I love you” can be more than enough to make one weak in the knees, and tingly in the … well … our other below-the-belt parts. And when you’re suffering from low self-esteem due to your cancer treatments, or self-doubt due to your inability to fix everything for your partner, those three, little words can make all the difference in the world.

8. Nurture Your Intimate Life

We know. We’ve already beat you over the head with the importance of a healthy sex life, and have hopefully provided you with all the tools necessary to rekindle beneath-the-sheets romance, even when you’re suffering debilitating side effects from your cancer treatment.

But we’re going to say it again: Intimacy is important to a long-lasting romantic relationship.

Because of this, we believe that you and your partner should be having sex regularly. Why? For one thing, reconnecting with your partner on a physical level helps reaffirm intimacy and rebuild connections. Not only that, but regular sex also reduces stress, boosts immunity, and releases endorphins, all things you could use help with when you’re struggling with cancer.

9. Express Your Love Daily

Don’t forget to let your partner know that you love them, whether in words or in action. What could you do to express your love?

  • Slip into the shower with your partner in the morning.
  • Bring your partner breakfast in bed.
  • Clean the dirty dishes without being asked.
  • Send your partner a “thinking of you” card via snail mail.
  • Help with dinner preparations, using the time to catch up.
  • Surprise your partner with their favorite gourmet food or guilty pleasure candy.

Check Pure Romance online for more intimacy tips and products!