I’m celibate at 22 after cancer killed my sex drive


A recovering cancer patient has spoken about one of the lasting impacts treatment has had on her sex life – admitting it has made her ‘proudly celibate’. 

Cambridge-based student Katie Mortimer says rounds of chemotherapy she received to treat her acute myeloid leukaemia have killed her libido – but she couldn’t be happier about it. 

‘I have no shame in admitting that I loved sex. The intimacy, nakedness, the kissing – oh my god, the kissing!’, she tells Metro.couk.

‘As a single woman in her early twenties, you’d expect me to be coupled up or out exploring my sexuality. And, prior to a shock cancer diagnosis, I very much was. However, I happily plan on staying celibate for the foreseeable.’

Katie was diagnosed in February last year after visiting her GP because she felt she had a constant hangover, despite not drinking

Katie was diagnosed in February last year after visiting her GP because she felt she had a constant hangover, despite not drinking.

Tests revealed her white blood cell count was alarmingly low, and within hours she was taken to hospital and diagnosed with cancer.

‘I was distraught, devastated,’ she recalls. 

‘I required immediate treatment and two weeks after starting chemotherapy noticed my sex drive had plummeted,’ she added.

Cambridge-based student Katie Mortimer says rounds of chemotherapy she received to treat her acute myeloid leukaemia have killed her libido

Cambridge-based student Katie Mortimer says rounds of chemotherapy she received to treat her acute myeloid leukaemia have killed her libido

Katie was diagnosed in February last year after visiting her GP because she felt she had a constant hangover, despite not drinking

Katie was diagnosed in February last year after visiting her GP because she felt she had a constant hangover, despite not drinking

‘As many may be aware, chemotherapy, and the plethora of medications that come with it, welcome an influx of wide-ranging side effects. I was conscious this could happen, but this repulsion I was feeling (to sex) was like no other.

For Katie, this was as drastic change to how she felt before.  

‘As the previously horny 22-year-old that I was, I never ever thought there’d be a time I was worryingly put off by men and sex. But there were simply no signs of arousal.’ 

Katie wondered which one of her 25 morning pills was making her hate sex

Katie wondered which one of her 25 morning pills was making her hate sex

Despite these worrying feelings, Katie was more concerned about her health.  

‘My return home was overcast by the fear of relapse. The idea of sex didn’t even cross my mind.’

Even once she had settled back into life outside of hospital though, Katie still felt sexually uninspired. 

Even once she had settled back into life outside of hospital though, Katie still felt sexually uninspired

Even once she had settled back into life outside of hospital though, Katie still felt sexually uninspired

''Pre-cancer me would never think about abstinence, purely because I was young and enjoying sex. Yet, I want to speak up about it because I want to help quash any taboo around these forbidden conversations'

”Pre-cancer me would never think about abstinence, purely because I was young and enjoying sex. Yet, I want to speak up about it because I want to help quash any taboo around these forbidden conversations’

‘The reality is, I’ve barely thought about it, and no longer get excited by people I fancy.

‘Pre-cancer me would never think about abstinence, purely because I was young and enjoying sex. Yet, I want to speak up about it because I want to help quash any taboo around these forbidden conversations.

‘I just don’t see myself wanting to have sex for a long time – and I’m fine with that. At the end of the day, it’s my life, and celibacy feels right to me for now.’ 

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