HealthDay News — More than 60 percent of young women diagnosed with cancer have sexual dysfunction, with more problems reported by women with cancer than among women from the general population, according to a study published online Sept. 30 in Acta Oncologica.
Lena Wettergren, Ph.D., R.N., from Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues conducted a population-based cross-sectional study involving young women (diagnosed before age 40 years) who had been diagnosed with cancer 1.5 years prior. Sexual dysfunction was examined among 694 women with breast and gynecological cancer, lymphoma, and brain tumors and a group of 493 women drawn from the general population.
The researchers found that 83 and 87 percent of women with cancer and women from the comparison group, respectively, reported having sex in the last month. Sexual dysfunction in at least one of the measured domains was reported by more than 60 percent of women with cancer (all diagnoses). Statistically significantly more problems were reported across domains by women with cancer versus the comparison group, including reduced interest in having sex and vaginal and vulvar discomfort. A particularly high risk for sexual dysfunction (at least two domains) was reported for women with gynecological or breast cancer and those receiving more intensive treatment. More dysfunction was seen in association with concurrent emotional distress and body image disturbance.
“Our results underscore the need to routinely assess sexual health in clinical care and follow-up,” the authors write. “In addition to offering counseling and aids we recommend development of specific interventions directed to women.”