Better Evaluation and Treatment of Women's Sexual Pain After Cancer Therapy

A recently authored review article appearing in Obstetrics & Gynecology addresses the common problem of painful sex in women who are long-term cancer survivors and offers recommendations for medical evaluation, conduct of exams, and options for treatment. Written by Vanessa Kennedy, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at UC Davis Health System, and Deborah Coady, MD, of New York University Langone Medical Center, the paper contends that painful sex following cancer treatment is relatively common and frequently treatable. Dr Kennedy comments “Sexual pain is often written off as ‘in people’s heads,’ but it is more often a result of physical issues that can be helped. It is important to be able to have the conversation comfortably and to know how to address the common issues that are often predictable, depending on a patient’s treatment course.”

Various cancer treatment modalities, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal therapies have been associated with the experience of sexual pain, according to the authors, but the arena of sexual health is frequently not addressed by clinicians or brought up by patients either during or after cancer treatment. Dr Kennedy asserted that sexual pain in women is frequently caused by low estrogen levels that may result from hormonal therapy, removal of the ovaries, or pelvic region radiation. This is a treatable condition, and the authors recommend that gynecologists consult more closely with cancer treatment providers to consider the likelihood of these effects from the patient’s cancer treatment program.

Read more about the recommendations here.

The journal abstract may be read here.


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