5 Things I've Learnt About Masturbation After Cervical Cancer

Karen Hobbs shares five things she’s discovered about self-pleasure since having gynaecological surgery. Listen and subscribe to Chronic with HuffPost UK's Lucy Pasha-Robinson.

Listen to Chronic, our anti-wellness podcast about living well when you’re chronically unwell. Available on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts – just search for “Chronic”.

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Karen Hobbs is a comedian and information officer at The Eve Appeal. She was also diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014, and had radical surgery to remove her cervix and part of her vagina.

This week, she’s joining HuffPost’s Lucy Pasha-Robinson on the Chronic podcast to talk about the legacy of a cancer diagnosis, something that’s often seen as an acute condition. But here we delve into its long-term effects: from living with life-altering sensations, to coming to terms with the fear of recurrence.

Here, Karen shares five things she learnt about masturbation – something that became a lifeline for her to reconnect with her body, after surgery made penetrative sex more challenging.

1. Solo sex is just as important and valid as sex with a partner.

2. Lube is your best friend.

There’s a stigma that if you’re not soaking wet, you’re not turned on. Everyone’s vagina is different and using lube is a great way to make everything slippy and slidey.

3. You don’t have to shove a whacking great dildo up your vagina to have a good wank.

Before my cervical cancer surgery, I had masturbated but didn’t know too much about my body and what I enjoyed. Afterwards, I felt anything going inside me was sore and uncomfortable for a long time, so I became much more acquainted with “colonel clit”, which is amazing, and also, nipples – definitely the clitoris of the torso.

4. Masturbation can be a great way to reconnect with your body after going through something difficult.

For a long time during my cancer and after surgery, I felt my body had become very medicalised. I was so used to being poked and prodded by doctors – who were saving my life – but I forgot what it felt to be like a woman and a sexual being, and it got to the point where I’d been fingered by more medical staff than sexual partners. Masturbating really helped me reconnect with my body.

5. Masturbating is a brilliant stepping stone before having full on sex with a partner.

I definitely didn’t feel ready to have penetrative sex for quite a while after surgery, so masturbating was the perfect way to feel sexy, good and comfortable again, without having a partner involved. Put in other words, and taking inspiration from RuPaul: “If you can’t touch yourself, how in the hell are you going to touch someone else.”

Hear more from Karen on this week’s episode of Chronic, available now on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts – just search for “Chronic”.

Follow Karen on Twitter or Instagram @Karen_Hobbs and stay tuned for more on all things Chronic by following host @LucyPasha on Twitter.

Want to reach the team? Drop us a line at chronic@huffpost.com