Young Women Who Survive Breast Cancer Face Problems Related With Sexual Intimacy

by Hannah Punitha on Nov 11 2008 5:33 PM

Young women who survive breast cancer often face problems related with sexual intimacy in their relationships, and prefer using sexual enhancement products to combat them, according to an Indiana University study.

Titled Young Female Breast Cancer Survivors: Their sexual function and interest in sexual enhancement products and services, the study was led by Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

It revealed that a large number of breast cancer survivors reported vaginal dryness, genital pain, premature menopause, fatigue and fertility problems.

Besides that, such wome also experienced significant problems related to sexual arousal, desire, and orgasm.

Although previous work has documented the sexual difficulties faced by young breast cancer survivors, strikingly little work has addressed strategies women might take to address these sexual problems, said Herbenick.

He added: Given advances in early detection and treatment, more women survive breast cancer, which requires researchers to focus on important relationship and quality of life issues for survivors, said Jessica Johnston, executive director of The Patty Brisben Foundation.

Majority of the women participating in the survey were found to be interested in using personal lubricants and massage lotions/oils to help treat these issues.

Fifty percent of the women were interested in using vibrators or dildos, and over one-third were interested in sex games.

The women in the study said that they were comfortable purchasing sexual enhancement products through in-home parties held in someone's own home or during one's regular breast cancer support group meeting.

Few of them also bought such stuff from adult Web sites and adult bookstores or novelty stores.

According to the research, these venues may turn out to be possible places for nurses, doctors and support group leaders to refer their clients.

"Documenting the sexual problems experienced by survivors is important, but we also need to understand the broad and diverse ways that women want to address these sexual problems so that they can experience their intimate lives in ways that feel comfortable, pleasurable and that enhance their relationships," said Herbenick.

He added: Many women expressed interest in these products, which makes sense given that so many had experienced genital pain, vaginal dryness, low desire or lack of orgasm.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Nursing.