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SEX AND THE OPERATING TABLE: ‘KEYHOLE SURGERY’

Having a surgical operation throws your life into turmoil, at least for a while. The length of time you’re out of action obviously depends on how severe the illness is, and the prognosis will determine the way you face the rest of your life. If there is a threat to your life, survival will naturally be your first priority.

A medical crisis can make you take a long look at yourself and your relationships with others. There’s nothing quite like the risk of losing someone close to stimulate some soul-searching. Have I been taking him for granted? Could we have spent more time together? How important is my partner in my life?

Many types of surgery can change your body image and affect the way you feel about yourself sexually. Both men and women can feel physically violated after an operation, and it is common to feel embarrassed and self-conscious about scarring.

The rapid advancements in ‘keyhole surgery’ have been made possible by massive leaps forward in fibre optic and laser technology. Operations from knee reconstructions to gall bladder removal, even hysterectomy, are now being accessed through tiny incisions. There have been some big advantages.

Because there is less pain you spend less time in hospital and you are back to your normal activities faster. Because the incisions are so much smaller, the cosmetic result is much better and there is less of an impact on your body image. This has to be good news but there are some conditions where the treatment has to involve surgery that is invasive and disfiguring. Mastectomy for breast cancer is one of these.

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