Women's Integrative Sexual Health (WISH) Frequently Asked Questions

For More Information

(608) 263-1434

The goal of the Women's Integrative Sexual Health (WISH) program it to provide individual clinical consultation, resources, education, emotional support and appropriate referrals related to sexual health concerns for women with cancer.


Why don’t women ask their providers about sexual health issues?

  • They feel embarrassed and worry about embarrassing the provider.
  • They believe if it was important, their provider would ask about it.
  • They don’t want to distract their provider from treating their cancer.
  • They think it is the provider’s job to ask.

Why don’t providers ask their patients about sexual health concerns?

  • Many cancer patients feel embarrassed or self-conscious when asking questions about sex.They feel embarrassed about discussing sexual topics.
  • They don’t feel they have the training, the time, the knowledge, or the resources to help.
  • They make the assumption that because of a woman’s age or marital status, she is not interested in being sexually active.
  • They feel that if the patient has a problem, she will bring it up.

Sex hurts. Can you help me?


There are many reasons why sexual intercourse can hurt. Vaginal dryness, scarring from prior cancer therapy, and muscle tension are some of the common issues related to pain. After a comprehensive history and physical exam, WISH providers will counsel patients about the possible cause of pain and suggest ways to improve or minimize discomfort. Follow-up appointments are important ways to customize individual treatment plans.


I have very little interest in sex since my cancer treatment. Is this common?


Some women lose interest in sex after cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.It is quite common for a woman to lose interest in sex after cancer treatment, especially if she has had surgery, radiation or chemotherapy that affects the ovaries. The ovaries produce estrogen and testosterone, hormones that are responsible for sexual desire and response. Natural menopause also decreases the level of these hormones in a woman’s body, so even women without cancer often experience a decreased interest in sexual activity.


Are WISH services covered by insurance?


Women may experience a variety of problems after cancer treatment, and many of them are billable to insurance. Insurers will often cover the clinical visits, though usual co-pays will apply. The WISH staff will work with patients to determine if a special referral is needed to be seen. Pelvic floor physical therapy is offered by UW Health providers. Insurance that covers UW Health will also cover these appointments. Currently, sex therapy is not covered by most insurance providers, but there may be exceptions. Patients should contact their insurance provider to verify coverage.