Even once a person has been given a clean bill of health after a serious illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean their fully recovered. One aspect of healing that people may not feel comfortable talking about is how their sex life has been affected. Illness can leave both mental and physical scars that can influence a person sexually. These can be extremely difficult to address but communication with partners, support groups, or medical professionals can help. “It’s tough enough to have a life-threatening illness but it’s even tougher if you don’t get some support along the way,” says Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington and author of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples. Here, from Schwartz, is some insight into how severe illness can affect a person’s sex life and what steps they and their partners can take to work through this complicated and sensitive situation.