Sexual and Psychological Dysfunctions Associated with Gynecological Cancers

This is a complex and sensitive topic that affects many women who have been diagnosed or treated for gynecologic cancer. Patients with gynecologic cancer may experience significant changes in their psychological and sexual health, as well as their quality of life, body image, and marital intimacy. There is a lot of research on this topic, but the results are not always consistent or conclusive.

Various factors can impact the psychological and sexual consequences in gynecologic cancer patients; they are:

  • The type and stage of cancer and the treatment options available.
  • The patient’s age, menopausal status, and reproductive plans.
  • The patient’s sexual self-schema, or how they view themselves as a sexual person.
  • The patient’s coping style, social support, and communication skills.
  • The patient’s partner’s sexual difficulties, expectations, and satisfaction.
  • The patient’s access to information, education, and counselling on sexual issues.

Gynecologic cancer patients may face a range of everyday challenges, including:

  • Reduced sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual activity
  • Vaginal dryness, atrophy, or stenosis
  • Changes in genital appearance or sensation
  • Fear of recurrence or infection
  • Anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem
  • Feelings of loss, grief, or guilt
  • Reduced sexual frequency or quality
  • Relationship problems or conflicts

The challenges can differ for each patient and their partner, depending on their circumstances and preferences. Some patients may adapt well and find new ways of expressing their sexuality, while others may struggle and need more help and support.

There is no right or wrong way to cope with these issues, but there are some strategies that may be helpful, such as:

Gynecological Cancer
  • Seeking accurate and reliable information on sexual health and cancer.
  • Discuss your concerns and needs openly and honestly with your partner, doctor, or counsellor.
  • Finding diverse ways of giving and receiving pleasure, such as oral sex, manual stimulation, sex toys, or erotic materials.
  • Using lubricants, moisturisers, or dilators to ease vaginal dryness or tightness.
  • Using relaxation methods like massage, breathing exercises, and meditation.
  • Taking professional help if you experience severe or persistent distress, pain, or dysfunction.

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