Sexual Issues Not Addressed
This is a not surprising article about a new study from the University of Chicago that found doctors usually/often do not talk about sexual issues with their female cancer patients. They do, apparently, talk with men who have prostate cancer (of course, in that situation, it is very obvious that there is a problem as many men are impotent after either surgery or radiation therapy). I talk a lot about intimacy with my patients, and it is a frequent topic in my groups. When I speak to physician audiences, I try to always say something like:" You don't have to say much to your patients. Please, however, do say 'Most women experience some changes in their sexuality during/after cancer treatment. Would you like a chance to talk with someone about that?" This gets them off the hook, normalizes the concerns, and hopefully stimulates a referral to someone like me.
Here is an excerpt from Bloomberg.com and then a link to read more. The take home lesson is that changes (and never positive) in libido and response are very common, totally normal, and can be improved. Bring it up with your doctor, but don't expect too much conversation and help there. Ask for a referral.
Sexual Issues Often Unaddressed in Women Who Survive Cancer
Doctors discuss sex with prostate cancer survivors, but not women who have cancer, researchers say
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Many women who survive breast or gynecologic cancers say they want help for sexual issues, but few of them actually ask for it, according to a new study from the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Few doctors have the expertise to discuss women's concerns about the effect of cancer on their sexuality, although doctors routinely bring up such questions among men treated for prostate cancer, senior author Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, said in a medical center news release.
"It is critical that physicians caring for [female] cancer patients know that sexual concerns are often physical," she said. "The physical problems associated with cancer treatment can strain relationships, cause worry and stress, and can be very isolating -- many women come to us feeling ashamed, guilty, or alone. They feel like the problem is primarily in their head."
Pain, vaginal dryness, loss of desire, arousal and orgasm difficulties, and body image concerns are among the sexual problems experienced by these patients. Some have also reported feeling less attractive after treatment.