Sexuality in Women Recovering from Gynaecological Cancer (Pages 1-6)

Angela Boggett1, Luke Graham2 and Anna van Wersch2

1Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Department of Mental Health, Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, DL6 1JG, UK; 2School of Social Sciences and Law, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, TS1 3BA, UK


Abstract: Objective: The clinical radical treatment of gynecological cancer has been characterised as defeminising women, with ignoring impacts on sexual functioning in intimate relationships. This research examined the psychological factors regarding this disease and its treatment for women and their sexuality across four main cancer types two years after recovering from gynecological cancer. Methods: Seventy-five cancer patients with a mean age at diagnosis of 51 (SD=15.3) gave their consent. Of these, eighteen participants (24%) had experienced endometrial, 25(33%) ovarian, 11(15%) vulva and 21(28%) cervical cancer. Sexual and relationship satisfaction were assessed with Golombok Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction (GRISS) and the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS). Results: Of the 53 women in intimate relationships who completed full datasets, only 4 (8%) returned to normal sexual activity and were sexually satisfied, 49 (92%) were not. Nonetheless, 50 (86%) of participants reported their relationship as satisfactory. The cancer effecting sexual activity the most was endometrial, which effects have been reported as anorgasmia and vaginismus, however all groups were dissatisfied with the lack of frequency of sexual activity.

Although cancer needs urgent treatment with the most desirable outcome in terms of physical heath, more emphasis is needed on caring for women’s sexuality in the recovering process.

Keywords: Sexuality, intimate relations, gynaecological cancer, psychological factors, quality of life.