Iris hummingbird holding a sign that says "Dear Iris".
Sexual Wellness

Dear Iris: Lack of Desire or Physical Touch

Dear Iris,

I'm struggling with managing conflicting feelings around intimacy. What should I do?


Dear W,

This question hits home for so many—Managing conflicting feelings around intimacy is more common than many might think. It's important to normalize these emotions because they're not unique to just oncology patients; they're part of life's challenges for many.

It's natural to feel a mix of emotions, ranging from frustration to grief and a sense of loss, especially when it's connected to something so personal. There might also be a sense of appreciation intertwined with these feelings. The ability to shift your perspective on intimacy can help you to view relationships, sex, and closeness in a new and exciting way.

It's alright to explore curiosity around your own intimacy and sexuality. Give yourself permission to embrace both what may feel like the positive and what may feel like the challenge in that.

It's a situation of 'both/and' thinking, allowing for the coexistence of different feelings around intimacy. It's valid to feel curious about these changes while also experiencing moments of frustration.

Complex emotions are a natural part of life. Embracing these varying emotions around intimacy is perfectly normal and acceptable.  

Loreal Massiah, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, TTS

Senior Oncology Social Worker

Iris Oncology

Loreal Massiah is a licensed clinical social worker with 14 years of oncology experience focused on supporting patients and their families throughout the cancer journey. She has a certification in oncology social work as well as tobacco cessation counseling. Loreal has had the pleasure of working alongside cancer survivors in advocacy roles to promote change in access to affordable treatment throughout the country; she has extensive experience working in cancer survivorship and caregiver support; she also has a special interest in health equity, diversity, and inclusion in medical care.

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.