Breast cancer survivors are especially vulnerable to dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse, because their treatment mainly focuses on eradicating the sex hormone estrogen. It is estimated that anywhere from 70-100% of breast cancer survivors experience some sort of sexual dysfunction. This further increases the severity of the typical menopausal symptom of pain with sex. A new research has suggested that application of liquid lidocaine, a common local anesthetic, may significantly improve sexual function of breast cancer survivors who experience pain during sexual intercourse.
The study's lead author Martha Goetsch, adjunct assistant professor Oregon Health & Science University in the US, said, "This noninvasive treatment will offer distinct help in alleviating the physical, and quite frankly the emotional pain associated with sexual intercourse, making sexual function more enjoyable and fulfilling for them and their partner."
For the study, the researchers asked 46 estrogen-deficient breast cancer survivors with severe dyspareunia to apply one of two treatments they could not identify during the blinded phase. The participants got either saline, a sterile solution, or 4% liquid lidocaine and applied their liquid to the vulvar vestibule for three minutes before sexual intercourse. They were also given a silicone lubricant.
Initially the group had an average pain score of 8 on a scale of one to ten, results showed that those who used lidocaine and a silicone-based lubricant had a much lower pain level, on on scale of one to ten, as compared with those who used saline and silicone lubricant, 5.3 on a scale of one to ten. No partner reported any numbness as a result of using lidocaine.
The research appeared online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.