Living Breast-Free

The New Normal

Now that surgery is behind you, it's time to focus on getting your life back to normal — the new normal, that is. There's no denying that the loss of your breast or breasts will take some getting used to. But you may discover a few positives as you adjust to living breast-free.

  • If you've had bilaterals and previously had large breasts, you may enjoy the freedom of wearing small breast forms or no forms at all. No more backaches or bouncing when jogging!

  • After mastectomy, whether single or double, you may discover how gratifying it is to know you are loved for who you are, rather than for a superficial feature like breasts.

  • On the other hand, you may be delighted to realize that, in clothes, you can look every bit as beautiful as you did before.

Sexuality

You may be worried about your sex life after mastectomy. For many women, breasts are an important erogenous zone. If you've had bilaterals, you may fear that the loss of nipple sensation will have a negative impact on your sex life. Whether you've had a single or a double mastectomy, you may worry that your partner won't find you attractive. Interestingly, many women who have had reconstruction report the same concerns with body image and sexuality. Reconstructed breasts often don't look like natural breasts and, of course, nipple sensation is absent for women who reconstruct, just as it is for women who choose not to reconstruct.

Sex after mastectomy can be just as satisfying as before. But you may need to experiment a bit.

  • Some women report that wearing breast forms in a leisure bra during intimate moments works well to recapture the feeling of having breasts.

  • If you enjoyed wearing lingerie before your mastectomy, there are some lovely options that can be worn with breast forms. The Lexie Post-Mastectomy Nightgown by Wear Ease is one beautiful example. Wear Ease also offers the Eve Pajama, for lounging or sleep, with pockets for breast forms.

  • Other women discover that their flat chests create opportunities for new kinds of intimacy. One woman has described her husband touching her chest where her left breast used to be and declaring that now he felt closer to her heart.

  • Just as those who have lost their sight or hearing report that their other senses become keener, you may find that, with the loss of your nipples, other erogenous zones become more sensitive.

In addition to the specific challenges to sexuality after a mastectomy, many women who have had mastectomies also face sexual issues related to other aspects of their cancer treatment, like vaginal dryness brought about by chemotherapy-induced early menopause. The booklet, Everything Nobody Tells You About Cancer Treatment and Your Sex Life, while not specifically written for women with breast cancer, offers practical suggestions that you may find useful.

Support from BreastFree.org

Fortunately, you need not be alone as you adjust to life after mastectomy surgery. BreastFree.org is here to help. Today, there are numerous options to make living breast-free easy and comfortable. In fact, the array of products available to you is so large and varied that it can be hard to know what to select. In our sections on Breast Forms and Bras, Camisoles, and Swimsuits you'll learn about products that other women have particularly liked. You can even learn How to Make a Micro Bead Breast Form. And in our section on Going Flat we share clothing ideas that have worked well for other women in your situation. Good solutions exist for you, even if you have challenges like lymphedema or a plus-size frame, which are discussed in our Special Post-Mastectomy Issues section.