Vaginal Dryness and Beyond: The Sexual Health Needs of Women Diagnosed With Metastatic Breast Cancer.

Research paper by Sara I SI McClelland, Kathryn J KJ Holland, Jennifer J JJ Griggs

Indexed on: 12 Aug '14Published on: 12 Aug '14Published in: Journal of sex research


While research on the sexual health of women with early stage cancer has grown extensively over the past decade, markedly less information is available to support the sexual health needs of women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 32 women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (ages 35 to 77) about questions they had concerning their sexual health and intimate relationships. All participants were recruited from a comprehensive cancer center at a large Midwestern university. Three themes were examined: the role of sexual activity and intimate touch in participants' lives, unmet information needs about sexual health, and communication with medical providers about sexual concerns. Findings indicated that sexual activities with partners were important; however, participants worried about their own physical limitations and reported frequent physical (e.g., bone pains) and vaginal pain associated with intercourse. When women raised concerns about these issues in clinical settings, medical providers often focused exclusively on vaginal lubricants, which did not address the entirety of women's problems or concerns. In addition, women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer reported needing additional resources about specialized vaginal lubricants, nonpenetrative and nongenitally focused sex, and sexual positions that did not compromise their physical health yet still provided pleasure.