The majority of women – 70% – of breast cancer survivors report reduced sexual desire or other sexual dysfunction following treatment, according to a new study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (October 2010).
There are many treatments used for women with breast cancer, and a woman’s reaction to radiation, surgery and hormone treatments can affect sexual desire. Women using aromatase inhibitors (a hormone therapy used to block estrogen to decrease the growth of breast tumors) were more likely to become post-menopausal and experience the most extreme cases of sexual dysfunction.
Decreased estrogen causes symptoms such as loss of desire, vaginal dryness, decrease in sexual activity, difficulty sleeping, and bone/muscle aches.
Women who underwent a mastectomy and other women with body image issues were twice as likely to experience issues with sexual function.
“Being diagnosed with breast cancer places a strain on a woman’s health physically and mentally,” said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of
The Journal of Sexual Medicine and director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital. ”Breast cancer survivors who are bothered by sexual health concerns should not be afraid to ask about psychologic and biologic treatments to improve their quality of life."
Of the participants, more than 80% of the 1,000 Australian women who participated in the study claimed that their sex life prior to breast cancer diagnoses and treatment was good and satisfying