Effects of Chemo on Husband

I have BC, invasive ductal, stage 3, and am undergoing AC chemo. I am in the 3rd of 4 chemo treatments, so first cycle is nearly done. Here is the deal. I am finding that my husband, who is supportive in every other way, is afraid to kiss me. It is not me so much or even my bald head, he is afraid of connecting with the chemo drugs.

Sexuality has been affected big time; but I can understand that. I don’t feel much like it either. We hug, hold hands, etc., but I miss his kisses. And this morning I flat asked him, are you afraid of kissing me? He said he listened to all the precautions given to me by the Onc about chemo. I think he is afraid that the chemo will be transmitted to him. Really, I can understand this fear. Life is so different. Is there any data out there that states, categorically, how chemo affects the OH, partner or S/O of the person with BC??? Is it transmitted through a kiss?

Thank you kindly for any light you can focus on this fear. It will help us both and perhaps others who may be too shy to ask the question.


I saw my Onc last week for the first time and he didn’t mention a thing about the fears your husband has!! I have to say though that if it is playing on his mind so strongly then getting the facts out in the open is def. the best strategy!! I’ll ask my Onc when I see him on Thurs!!! See what his take is on it!! In fact, I’m due to speak to my Chemo nurse at lunch-time, so I’ll ask her!!
I’ll be in touch!

Hi Emily,

I dont think that the chemo would directly effect your husband. Me and my husband kiss all the time and he hasnt felt that he has been effected with the drugs. Although i do see the mad side of him alot!!! Although i remember reading somewhere that maybe sex without a condom could irritate in the first few days. Unless other know something i dont.

Me and hubbie did dwindle in the sex department but i was knakcered alot and he did understand this and i think he felt a little incomfortable with me being bald and the whole body change. But with time hes got more comfortable and it does get easier. Plus you are going through alot too and need time to adjust to this horrible disease.



Thanks Shelly - that was my thought too. To call my BC nurse and put a question into the Onc too. Get the facts, split the myth and alleviate his fear. He is a very articulate, intelligent man so perhaps this is just an emotional outlet for his fears in general.
Between us, we will have an international answer from US (me) and UK (you) which should be definitive!

In any case, I am sure I am not the only woman who has encountered this!


My OH had chemo 19 yrs ago for testicular cancer, and we kissed, cuddled etc as “normal” newly engaged couples do. Am convinced, although I have BC now, that the chemo did not affect me at all. 19 yrs is too long ago - after all, he was all clear after 10 years!
Your BCC is not just for you, but for him too. Do you think he’d be able to ask her questions, and be reassured by the answers? What about the onc? It’s a real shame you are missing out on this form of reassurance because of his fears. It’s a fact that those around us, whom we love, are also in need of answers. I gave my BCC’s phone number to my mum and they had quite a chat or three! It affects the whole family, not just us. I hope for your sake, Emily, that he gets the answers he needs from somewhere, and your relationship continues to thrive.
Sue xx

Well, that’s true. He does kiss me, but it is with some reserve and I can sense the feelings. We’ve been through so much, truly we can get through this, but I want him to feel better about it and not worry. With his Open Heart Surgery and other illnesses, he is being protective of his own body, I think.

I will probably overload him with info tonight!


lol. Be kind to yourselves Emily, take it easy, you’ll both get there I’m sure.

Sue xx

Hi Emily,

We were told to use condoms during chemo because of the risk of aggravating his sensitive bits with the drugs. But no-one ever mentioned not kissing.


Good grief - you were told more than me! Och well, doesn’t appear to have affected him! lol xx


All I can say is that your not alone in this department. My hubby is also very supportive other than that way. My mc nurse told me that there is nothing wrong with having a good snog - tongues and all that!. The only thing she did say was to use a plonker if you want sex for the entire duration of chemo.

i hope things improve.


Hi Emily

Just to re-assure you and your OH. I was told by the chemo nurse at the planning session that sex would be absolutely fine - and obviously kissing etc. She just advised to use a condom for the first few days immediatley after chemo - I think she said 3 days - in other words whilst the chemo is still going through your system. As your pee will be red (I was on AC too and peeded ‘red’ for a couple of days), she said once that’s all clear, you can carry on as normal. You might find that you are bit drier down below, so use a suitable lubricant to avoid upsetting the fine membranes, which are all affected by chemo. The body image thing is another matter of course, and I have heard from other girls that this is often the reason that their OH does not feel like intimate contact, so this could be the reason, rather then fear of chemo. As the other girls have said, BC affects the whole family and the emotional upheaval is a heavy burden to carry for everyone. Maybe, once you have all the facts, have another long chat with your OH and see what his real feelings are. Men are generally not able to express their feelings so well, as we all know, and it helps if they can perhaps speak to somebody outside the family (try the BCC helpline).

I was very lucky that my OH managed to cope very well with all the changes whilst having treatment etc. and our sex life did not suffer. It’s only now, some years down the line, that he finds it difficult to accept that things have changed for me and my level of fitness and energy is not the same as it was, but that’s another story.

Very best of luck Emily.