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J Sex Med. 2012 Nov;9(11):2952-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02860.x. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Quantity vs. quality: an exploration of the predictors of posttreatment sexual adjustment for women affected by early stage cervical and endometrial cancer.

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  • 1Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making (CeMPED), School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Women with early stage cervical and endometrial cancer may experience complex posttreatment changes to their sexual function, but clinical practice and past research have focused more on the quantity than the perceived quality of sexual life.


The aims of this prospective study were to explore the following: (i) the relative importance of quantity vs. quality of sexual life over the first year posttreatment; (ii) the psychological and sexual predictors of overall sexual function; and (iii) the relationship between sexual function and quality of life (QoL).


Fifty-three cancer patients completed standardized measures at baseline, with follow-up at 6 and 12 months posttreatment. Analyses were based on prespecified linear mixed models with overall sexual function and QoL as outcomes, and quality and quantity of sexual life, anxiety, and depression as the main predictors of interest. Radiotherapy, age, and relationship satisfaction were controlled for as potential confounders.


Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory subscales to assess quantity (Drive) and quality (Satisfaction) of sexual life, and overall sexual function (Global Sexual Satisfaction Index); Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy--General to assess QoL; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess psychological distress; and Relationship Satisfaction Interaction Scale to assess relationship satisfaction.


The models demonstrated that: (i) overall sexual function was predicted more strongly by the perceived quality than the quantity of sexual interactions, (ii) a small change in perceived quality had a large impact on overall sexual function, and (iii) overall sexual function was a predictor of QoL.


This study found that quality rather than quantity of sexual life is the best predictor of overall sexual function among women treated for early stage cervical and endometrial cancer, indicating the importance of including quality indices in posttreatment sexual assessment in clinical practice and research studies.

© 2012 International Society for Sexual Medicine.

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