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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Ovarian Cancer
You may need to make lifestyle changes to help you manage cancer treatment and cope with issues concerning sexuality and reproduction.
Depending on the spread of your disease, you may need simple or extensive surgery, and/or one or a few cycles of radiation or chemotherapy. You may have concerns about your diet, complications and side effects, pain, fatigue, and emotional coping. Ask your doctor to give you information and help you find support and resources that will make this process easier.
In particular, chemotherapy may make it necessary to adapt your diet to maintain your nutrition. If you have nausea and vomiting, you may require nutritional supplementation. Also, if you develop diarrhea, you may also have to limit your diet and reduce your fiber intake to be comfortable. Making an appointment with a nutritionist to discuss some of these issues in advance can be helpful.
Most of the treatments of ovarian cancer can affect your fertility. Ask your doctor about the effects of your specific treatment plan on fertility. If you wish to have children, talk with your doctor and your family about your options, such as adopting or harvesting and preserving your eggs before treatment. It is unclear whether it is safe to harvest eggs from a woman who has ovarian cancer. It is likely the eggs will be damaged, and the harvesting procedure could be risky and may cause the tumor to spread to the cervix or vagina.
Your sexual function may be temporarily upset by your treatment. You may experience pain or loss of sexual function. You may be fearful or anxious about your first sexual experience after cancer treatment, which may cause you or your partner to avoid intimacy and sexual activity. Your partner may also feel anxious about initiating any activity that might be thought of as pressuring to be intimate or that might cause physical discomfort. You and your partner should discuss concerns with your doctor or a counselor. Honest communication of feelings, concerns, and preferences is important. With counseling and other medical treatments, you may reduce fears, regain normal sensation, and be able to have pain-free intercourse.
Contact your doctor if:
- You have concerns about treatment options and fertility
- Sexual function continues to be a problem after treatment
- You are having difficulty coping with your treatment
Detailed guide: ovarian cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/index. Accessed January 6, 2014.
Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 31, 2013. Accessed January 6, 2014.
Ovarian cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/ovarian. Accessed January 6, 2014.
9/18/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: FDA clears a test for ovarian cancer. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm182057.htm. Published September 11, 2009. Accessed January 6, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013
- Update Date: 01/06/2014