Love it when I can use a short and pithy title! This is an article about sexual function in post-menopausal women after breast cancer chemotherapy. Remember that many women become suddenly post-menopausal as they go through chemotherapy for breast cancer--often transitioning from regular periods to menopause over one chemo cycle. My experience has been that most women in the 40s or 50s have this happen, and a fairly small minority of the younger women may resume their menses when treatment is over.
The not so surprising conclusions of this study are that sexual functioning and satisfaction decline after diagnosis and after chemotherapy. Think we all knew that. When I give talks about sexuality, I like to say that a cancer diagnosis and treatment are never sexual pluses, and that one is unlikely to read a personal ad that says something like "50 year old woman likes to walk on the beach at sunset, read historical novels, and has had breast cancer." When we talk about sex in groups, which happens quite often, it quickly becomes very funny as women list the things they would rather do than have sex on Sunday afternoon. The list includes having a root canal and scrubbing the kitchen floor. Need I say more?
Sexual function and chemotherapy in postmenopausal women with breast Cancer
This cross-sectional, nested cohort study assessed Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI)scores in postmenopausal women with breast cancer receiving primary chemotherapy.
The FSFI questionnaire was administered to 24 postmenopausal women one month after diagnosis of breast cancer (post-diagnosis group) and one month after completion of the first cycle of primary anthracyclin-based chemotherapy (post-chemotherapy group). Scores were
compared to those of 24 healthy postmenopausal women seeking routine gynecological care(control group). All patients were sexually active at the time of enrollment. Mean age was 57.29??±??11.82 years in the breast cancer group and 52.58??±??7.19 years in the control group.
Scores in all domains of the FSFI instrument were significantly lower in the post-diagnosis.
A further major reduction in FSFI scores was evident on completion of one cycle of primary chemotherapy (down 46.7% from postdiagnosis scores, p???0.003), again in all domains. Six patients (25%) ceased all sexual
relations, in a significant change from baseline (p???0.001). After one chemotherapy cycle, a further five patients ceased sexual activity, for a total of 11 (45.8%) participants ?? a borderline significant difference (p??=??0.063).
The present study shows that female sexual function as assessed by the FSFI declines significantly at two distinct points in time: upon diagnosis of breast cancer and after administration of systemic chemotherapy.