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J Sex Med. 2013 Feb;10 Suppl 1:5-15. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12034.

Sexual health issues in women with cancer.

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Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, Newport Beach, CA 92663, USA.



Sexual health issues for women who have cancer are an important and under-diagnosed and under-treated survivorship issue. Survivorship begins at the time a cancer is detected and addresses health-care issues beyond diagnosis and acute treatment. This includes improving access to care and quality-of-life considerations, as well as dealing with the late effects of treatment. Difficulties with sexual function are one of the more common late effects in women.


This article attempted to characterize the etiology, prevalence, and treatment for sexual health concerns for women with gynecological cancer.


A systematic survey of currently available relevant literature published in English was conducted.


The issue of sexual health for women with cancer is a prevalent medical concern that is rarely addressed in clinical practice. The development of sexual morbidity in the female cancer survivor is a multifactorial problem incorporating psychological, physiologic, and sociological elements. Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and hormonal manipulation appear to have the greatest influence on the development of sexual consequences. Sexual complaints include but are not limited to changes in sexual desire, arousal, and orgasmic intensity and latency. Many women suffer from debilitating vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.


Many of the sexual health issues experienced by cancer survivors can be addressed in clinical practice. A multimodal treatment paradigm is necessary to effectively treat these sexual complaints in this special patient population.

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