Dating Site Serves People Who Can't Have Sex, But Want Love

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Not Being Able to Have Sex 'Always on My Mind'

Brashier hopes her website can cast a wide net to connect those who have had traumatic injuries like paralysis, invasive surgery, extreme radiation and even birth defects. For men, conditions like prostate cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes can also affect their sexual function.

Cancer expert Cass said that it is important to educate patients about how the side effects of treatments can impair sexual function and to give them the tools to preserve their sexuality.

"Intimacy after cancer treatment is an enormous problem," she said.

She said many myths surrounding cancer treatments stigmatize patients and kill the sex drive.

"If you have had chemo, your partner is not exposed by being intimate," said Cass. "Radiation doesn't expose your partner to radiation. Cancer is not sexually transmitted."

Vaginal tissues can scar and younger women can go into premature menopause after chemotherapy and radiation. This can cause hot flashes, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. Hormones and non-hormone therapy can often treat symptoms.

As for radiation, "it's pretty tough on tissues," said Cass. "The vagina is a pretty tough organ, but there can be a certain degree of fibrosis or thickening -- like old leather -- that can be problematic for women."

"We encourage sexual activity after treatment," she said. "If you don't use it, the vagina can close down and stick to itself and become stenotic."

Her advice to female patients is "use it or lose it," and encourages women who have undergone cancer treatment to use a dilator to keep the vagina open. The tissue is incredibly flexible, according to Cass, and can stretch itself back into shape.

Even patients like Brashier, whom Cass did not treat, can experience intimacy without vaginal intercourse.

"There are other ways to express love, including clitoral stimulation, oral sex and other erogenous zones," she said. "You still have some hardware there."

Couples need to be "creative" and to "expand their horizons" to satisfy their need for intimacy, according to Cass. "We are all sexual beings."

As for Brashier, she hopes that 2date4love will help bring intimacy to lonely lives, without the expectation of going all the way.

"It's just the freedom of not having it on my mind when I am talking to a man," she said. "It's really hard for someone else to understand how it weighs on my mind."

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