From support groups to actual medical care, men across the country are seeking out education and information in the cause, origin and extent of female breast disorders. In an effort to offer physical and emotional support to women, men require knowledge to clearly understand the impact breast disorders will have not only on the woman they love but also on their own lives.
In both men and women, as we age, breast tissue changes. These changes often lead many women to experience fear and anxiety over the development of life threatening breast complications and disorders, such as breast cancer. While, in most cases, these breast changes are not a sign of breast cancer, they can impose changes in texture and sensation resulting in life impacting results in terms of daily living and bodily self image. This change can lead a man to feel confused and frustrated with the degree to which intimacy and sexual relationships are altered with the female companion. As a man, understanding the varied types of benign breast disorders, and the impact the breast disorder has on a woman’s emotional and physical well being, will provide for a more healthy response, and may restore sexual and intimate experiences, within the relationship.
First, it is important to understand that benign breast disorders are actually more common than malignant breast complications in women. While benign breast disorders are varied, they do pose a fear in a woman who may be unaware or unfamiliar with the breast complication for which she is suffering. From cysts to mastitis, breast disorders require early examination and treatment by a healthcare professional, sometimes a breast specialist, to confirm the nature and extent of the breast disorder, ensuring benign status and not that of a malignancy. Once malignancy is ruled out, the road to recovery begins and, in some cases, involves nothing more than “watch and see”, which is tailored based on the diagnosed breast disorder of the woman. As a man involved in an intimate relationship with a woman experiencing a breast disorder diagnosis, understanding and encouraging a visit with a breast specialist, will signal emotional support to the woman who is experiencing breast health complications thereby sending a message of emotional support and general concern.
What is also important for men to understand is that most benign breast disorders in women are the result of complication arising, and attributed to, an infection, age related changes or hormonal fluctuations in the female partner. In addition, there are a variety of symptoms including discharge, lump abscess and general changes in skin texture and appearance which may be quite evident, even during periods of intimacy, often leaving a woman to become excessively self conscious and, therefore, disinterested in intimacy or sexual relationships with her male partner. While these symptoms are crucial to assist with diagnosing the breast disorder or complication in the woman, coupled with the underlying origin of disease, they can also place a strain on the relationship. When involved in a relationship with a woman experiencing breast disorder complications, understanding the complicating bodily image issues which accompany a breast disorder, and expressing sympathy to the woman’s needs, will provide for a more healthy emotional response, ultimately leading to restored intimacy in the relationship.
When a breast specialist determines a woman’s breast complication or disorder requires invasive treatment, such as the case with removal of a benign tumor or cyst, as her partner, offering support in terms of surgery and recovery is crucial. Oftentimes, because men are unfamiliar with the female breast complications, the support required by the woman is missed, ultimately leading to feelings of anger and frustration with the male partner. To prevent this occurrence in the relationship, and to ultimately restore intimacy, the male partner should be assertive and involved in each step of the woman’s health, even going so far as to attend doctor’s appointments, pick up prescription medications at the pharmacy and offering overall emotional support.
As a man caring for a woman who is experiencing a breast disorder, educating oneself in the aspect of the breast complication of your female partner may hold the key to assisting a woman in recovery. Searching for advice from physicians, counselors and even attending support groups specifically designed for men experiencing the same health and intimacy dynamic within a relationship, will provide not only the resources to support a woman during this complex time, but also lay the foundation for support throughout the intimate and sexual relationship for years to come.