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Published:May 15th, 2013 20:52 EST
Is Mastectomy a Death Sentence for Sex?

Is Mastectomy a Death Sentence for Sex?

By Dr. Judy Kuriansky (Mentor/Columnist)

Noted clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist Dr. Judy Kuriansky comments on sex and mastectomy, in light of the revelation about her double mastectomy of legendary sexpot Angelina Jolie.

"Most women associate their breasts with their femininity and being sexually attractive," says noted clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist Dr. Judy Kuriansky. "After a mastectomy, they panic that no man will ever want them. Ashamed of their body, or losing sensations, they can lose their sex drive and withdraw from sex."

Angelina Jolie, once notorious as a sexpot, offers tremendous support to such women, in her New York Times disclosure that, "I do not feel any less of a woman." Many women need professional counseling to help rebuild such self-esteem.

Scientific research has not proven the widely held belief that marriages of women with breast cancer break up more than women with no such diagnosis; but those with pre-exiting marital problems and dissatisfaction do experience more marital troubles after their diagnosis. Data aside, individual cases of severe stress, separation and divorce are not uncommon. Couples need to communicate about their feelings, and get reassurance and advice about handling fears and about when and how to resume intimate sexual contact.

The reactions of the woman`s partner to her mastectomy are critical to recovery. Studies show that a woman`s breasts matter to men; in one study of 190 men, 90 percent mentioned their love for female breasts. Jolie`s experience is encouraging, when she reveals that her partner, actor Brad Pitt, was "so loving and supportive" and present at every medical appointment. Many women are not so lucky. Male partners become fearful, sexually turned off, and event threatened about their own masculinity. Professional couples counseling is essential to help these men address their emotional reactions, their attitudes towards breasts, female sexual attractiveness and their own sexual potency. 

Available for interview:

Dr Judy Kuriansky is a well-respected clinical psychologist at Columbia University Teachers College and a certified sex therapist and pioneer in sexology research and therapy. She has hosted a syndicated radio call-in advice show on Z100 radio and stations around the country for decades, and written many advice columns and books about sexuality including "Generation Sex" America`s Hottest Sex Therapist Answers the Hottest Questions About Sex" and "Sex Education: Past, Present and Future." She lives in New York.