Conversations about sexual difficulties and sexual health are challenging, with high emotional stakes for patients and being a specialist area of medical practice for doctors. Dr Tonia Mezzini, Sexual Health Physician, said sexual health, relationships, mental health, and wellbeing issues are often the “elephant in the room” during consultations.
“Everybody wants to talk about it, but nobody knows where to start,” she said. “The patient is hoping the clinician will ask them because then they have permission to raise it, and the clinician is thinking well if they want to talk about it, they’ll ask me.”
As a keynote speaker at the upcoming Living Well Information Forum on October 24th at Mission Beach, hosted by Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA), Dr Mezzini is set to give an open, informative, and entertaining presentation on sexual health and wellbeing after a breast cancer diagnosis to attendees, hoping to spark a dialogue. The free event allows attendees to join online or attend the event in person. Dr Mezzini will also be doing a presentation at the Health Professional dinner on prescribing and managing oestrogen deficiency symptoms in women living with breast cancer.
“Menopause is often more challenging for women with breast cancer who are catapulted into menopause suddenly, and many well before the typical age,” she said. “Symptoms can include changes to the menstrual cycle, hot flushes and sweats, sleep disturbance, joint pains and fatigue, osteoporosis, risk of cardiovascular disease, potential cognitive changes, anxiety and mood challenges, and low libido.”
Dr Mezzini points out that low libido can be exacerbated by the issues like sleep deprivation as well as genital health changes. “These may have a profound and negative impact on the quality of life of postmenopausal women, and women should be made aware of these problems and treated with an appropriate effective therapy,” she said.
Dr Mezzini will be sharing her top tips for treating symptoms (and sometimes even avoiding them all together) and her go-to methods and products for managing issues that are affecting quality of life and sexual function, including what she has dubbed the “downstairs chap stick!”.
“Talking about sex and intimacy is difficult for all of us, but it’s difficult because it is important,” she said. “We need to spend time properly talking about sex, about dry vaginas, or about penises that can no longer respond as we want them to – not just make jokes and hope it will magically get sorted out!”
On Tuesday October 24, people living in and around Mission Beach who have been affected by breast cancer are invited to Breast Cancer Network Australia’s (BCNA) Living Well Information Forum to learn about the latest in current and emerging breast cancer treatments and care.
BCNA’s Information Forums are designed for everyone affected by breast cancer – whether they have been diagnosed with DCIS, early breast cancer, or metastatic breast cancer or are a family member or carer of someone diagnosed. It will also be an opportunity to hear from local community groups and BCNA members, who will share their stories.
October is international Breast Cancer Awareness Month and at BCNA our theme is “Living Well, Your Way”. What this theme recognises is that “living well” looks different for everyone, and it is likely that people affected by breast cancer will require different types of support at different times. With 20,458 women and 217 men expected to receive a diagnosis in 2023, raising awareness around the different support and resources available to help people live well with or beyond breast cancer is essential.
Registrations are free and can be either in-person to attend the event or online to tune in virtually right up until the start time via the BCNA website.
Date: Tuesday 24 October
Location: Castaways Resort & Spa, 2 Pacific Pde, Mission Beach
Time: 9.00 am for 9.30 am start – 3.00 pm
Medical oncologist Dr Michelle White
Clinical Psychologist Chloe Oliver
Sexual Health Physician Dr Tonia Mezzini
Exercise Physiologist Jody Spicer
Physiotherapist Maebh Coleman
Breast Care Nurse Deirdre Maunsell
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