Sexual activity and functioning in ovarian cancer survivors: an internet-based evaluation.
Hopkins TG., Stavraka C., Gabra H., Fallowfield L., Hood C., Blagden S.
OBJECTIVES: Sexual dysfunction is a known complication of treatment for many cancers, but there have been relatively few studies investigating outcomes for ovarian cancer survivors. We have previously reported that women treated for ovarian cancer experience persistent psychological and physical problems. Sexual functioning was highlighted as a significant factor and we sought to investigate this further. METHODS: Women were invited to complete a questionnaire using both paper and online response formats. A validated tool, the Sexual Activity Questionnaire, was used to obtain information from women following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. RESULTS: Across all responders (n = 102, mean age 51.3 years), 63% of women reported their ovarian cancer diagnosis had negatively changed their sex life. The most common reasons given for an absence of sexual activity were a lack of interest in sex, physical problems that prevented sex or no partner. Of the 46% of responders who stated they were sexually active, 77% reported pain or discomfort during intercourse and 87% described vaginal dryness. CONCLUSION: For the majority of women, treatment for ovarian cancer negatively impacts on their sex lives. Many of the symptoms described by participants are potentially reversible and clinicians should be open to raising the issue of sexual functioning with their patients.