Women who are treated for gynecologic cancers— cervical, uterine, ovarian, endometrial, or vulvar—are often caught off-guard by the impact that surgery, pelvicradiation, and chemotherapy can have on their sex lives.

"Neither my gynecologic oncologist nor my radiation oncologist discussed any sexual side effects prior to treatment," says Katie, 31, who had a hysterectomy and radiation treatments for cervical cancer. "My libido fell off the radar screen almost immediately, and even after five years, it is becoming increasingly hard to find."

While not all women experience dramatic shifts in sexual functioning and desire after being treated for gynecologic cancer, almost all will notice changes that affect their sexuality. Knowing what to expect up front can help women hold on to the pleasure and comfort that sexual activity can provide.