It is common for women being treated for breast cancer to experience changes that affect their sexual health during, and after treatment, according to a recent study published in Acta Oncologica.
Just under 700 cancer patients were included in the study. Over 60% reported having some sort of sexual dysfunction. Lymphoma and cervical, ovarian, breast, and brain cancers were among the cancer types represented. In the cancer group, the mean age was 34.5 years, while in the control group, it was 29.7 years. The majority of people in both groups were heterosexual (93% in both groups) and had a partner (85% in the cancer cohort and 81% in the control cohort).
Overall, 63% of patients with cancer and 53% of the control group reported sexual dysfunction in at least 1 of the following:
“A majority of women diagnosed with cancer before the age of 40 experience sexual dysfunction, and they do so to a significantly higher extent than young women of the general population,” the researchers concluded. “Women with gynecological and breast cancers reported more sexual dysfunction than the general population…. Our results underscore the need to routinely assess sexual health in clinical care and follow-up.”
You’re not alone if you’re struggling with issues affecting your sexuality. Following a breast cancer diagnosis, sex and intimacy can be challenging for many women.
Below are ways to manage common sexual health issues:
Learn more about sexual health needs after breast cancer.
Make a list of questions to ask your doctor or nurse as you consider the changes that treatment has made in your life. Think about including these on your list:
For more on body image and sexuality after breast cancer, head to the American Cancer Society.