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[cancer] More sex, and other mysteries - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-12-23 18:32
Subject: [cancer] More sex, and other mysteries
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, health, personal, religion, sex
Just spoke to the chemo nurse. I have been advised that due to me being on 5-FU (Fluorouracil), condoms are absolutely required for any relevant sexual act during chemo and for three months afterward. The drugs involved are too disruptive to risk passing on to my sex partners via my ejaculate. Also due to my immunocompromised status, I cannot perform oral sex without a dental dam, as the consequences of me contracting a bacterial infection are severe. This is not surprising, but it does not please me.

In other news, thanks to a prompting from a friend of calendula_witch, I queried about EMLA, an anaesthetic cream that's applied to the skin above the chest port an hour or so prior to the needle being set. The nurse said, "Well, that's a good idea. It will cut down quite a bit on your incidental pain." Which made me wonder why they didn't prescribe it proactively. She also indicated that I can continue physical therapy while under chemo, with no particular cautions. So my shoulder will progress further.

In other news, I'm mulling a post on cancer, stress and my atheism. It seems to need to be discussed — even my clinic is advising me to support my spiritual side through my faith, which seems to considerably privilege religious belief. I'm not planning to make an issue of it there, not at all, just wanting to answer the implied question, which was explicitly voiced by an acquaintance who recently commented, "I just don't understand how you can do this without faith in God."

That definitely deserves a thoughtful response.

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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2009-12-24 09:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If I remember correctly -- it's a long time since I did this stuff for a living -- 5FU interferes with DNA transcription. It's therefore highly teratogenic -- this paper notes "dose-dependent growth retardation and numerous malformations in near-term fetuses, including hindlimb defects and cleft palate" in pregnant rats. It's almost certainly going to result in deformed sperm while you're receiving it.

From a medical liability perspective the last thing your oncologists want is for a chemo patient to sue them on behalf of a malformed child, hence the condom advice: I suspect "it'll poison your partner" is a little white lie by implication to get around the objections of those folks who reject birth control per se.

(If a condom ruptures you do not need to worry about your partner going into convulsions and dying on you. But you really don't want to risk them getting pregnant.)

Edited at 2009-12-24 09:29 am (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-12-24 12:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have had a vasectomy, and none of my regular sex partners are fertile anyway, so the odds of a problem pregnancy occurring approach the level of divine interventions...
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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2009-12-24 12:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's a good place to be, then: risk factor #1 doesn't apply.

5FU is still not nice stuff, but the obvious advice is: if a condom bursts, douche promptly, but there's no need to panic and probably no need for medical follow-up.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-12-24 12:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yah. And sigh.
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