Couples in which one member has tested positive for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation may benefit from working with a couples therapist who is knowledgeable about how these mutations may impact couples and family relationships, health, and decision-making.
Testing positive for a BRCA mutation has significant implications for a couples relationship, including intimacy/sexuality, family formation, risk-management decision-making, and communication. Couples may find it challenging to reconcile changing body image with their ideas about how their physical relationship can and should function at various stages. Women who choose to undergo risk-reducing mastectomy or oophorectomy will encounter changes to their bodies that can complicate sex and sexuality. A skilled couples therapist can help a couple communicate effectively about these issues and find compromise and satisfaction. Family formation goals and ideas are often affected by a positive BRCA mutation test. When a woman has not yet commenced or completed childbearing at the time of genetic testing, she and her partner must consider the implications of pregnancy on her own health, as well as the risk to their future children.
Understanding all of the factors and options can be confusing and complicated. But a skilled couples therapist who is knowledgeable about these issues can serve as a guide in understanding each other and making decisions that work for your family. The options available for risk-management for BRCA-positive individuals are complicated and frequently changing. In addition, any decision has serious implications for couples relationships – either presently or in the future. Lindsey Hoskins has worked extensively with both couples and individuals to help them make confident decisions about how to manage their risk in the context of their relationships. Communicating effectively with one’s partner is an important step toward coping and healing together. Emotions can run high when working through the complicated process of genetic testing and decision-making, and having a safe place to explore your feelings together with the guidance of an expert in both couples therapy and genetics can set you on the path toward hope and healing.