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Side Effects

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  • Side effects are different for everyone. Some patients feel fine during treatment while others may experience side effects. Before treatment, ask your doctor to describe what you can expect.
    • Mild tiredness may develop. However, tiredness from radiation should improve within a few weeks after radiation treatment ends.
    • Skin irritation may occur with external beam radiation. Clean the area regularly with mild soap and warm water.
    • Changes in bowel habits are common. There is usually some urgency or loose bowel movements. In some cases there may be more frequent bowel movements, nausea and bloating.
    • Urinary discomfort and urgency may occur. These symptoms are often more common with brachytherapy.
    • Infertility can occur after radiation to the pelvic area. If you are considering having children after radiation treatment, ask your doctor about fertility preservation options.

    Do not be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about sexual side effects. Although side effects can sometimes decrease interest in or pleasure with sexual activity, most women are able to resume sexual relations. Ask your doctor or nurse how to manage these changes. Medications, vaginal dilators and moisturizers may help. Pelvic rehabilitation therapy, a type of physical therapy, may also be helpful in treating late sexual and urinary side effects.

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