Couples dealing with their changed sexuality due to cancer: a synthesis of the qualitative research literature

  • Auteur(s) Charlotte Benoot, Marlies Saelaert, Karin Hannes, Johan Bilsen
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Purpose: When confronted with cancer, a prominent challenge for patients and their partners is their changed sexual relationship. There is a need for an empirically based theoretical model of the sexual adaptation process during cancer.
Method: We conducted a literature synthesis of a purposeful sample of sixteen qualitative papers, using the meta-ethnography approach to select, analyse and synthetize the papers.
Results: We found that the subsequent papers used three different theoretical approaches to describe how couples dealt with their changed sexuality due to cancer: (1) as a process of grief and mourning, depicting sexual changes as a loss, (2) as a process of cognitive restructuring, with a strong focus on the social and cultural forces that shape the values and experiences of sexuality and (3) as a process of sexual rehabilitation, depicting
sexual changes as a bodily dysfunction that needs to be ‘cured’ by (medical) treatment. All three processes have their own opportunities and challenges for practice.
Conclusion: A better knowledge of these three processes might help health care providers in the oncological setting to better understand and guide couples in dealing with their changed sexuality.

Gepubliceerd in 2017, Volume 41, Issue 4

Young and cancer: Sexual problems and need for care

  • Auteur(s) Vivian W.G. Burgers, Brenda L. den Oudsten, Olga Husson
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Purpose: To provide an overview of the sexual problems and care needs of adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer between 15 and 39 years old (AYA’s).
Method: Databases Pubmed (1946-2017) and PsychINFO (1806-2017) were used in June 2017 to search articles. Relevant articles were selected.
Results: Results of 14 studies, 11 quantitative and 3 qualitative, indicate the negative impact of cancer on sexuality of AYA’s. The female AYA’s experience problems with sexual arousal and interest, relaxation and enjoy during sexual contact, reaching an orgasm, vaginal lubrication, and dyspareunia. Men experience problems with arousal, erection, and ejaculation. Feelings of physical attractiveness and a decrease of sexual activity were seen as problems for men and women. AYAs who experience unmet sexual needs, indicate that they miss practical help, information and/or counseling.
Conclusion: AYA’s can experience sexual problems caused by and/or maintained by physical, psychological and social factors and thereby they can experience unmet needs.
Implication: Despite the increase in AYA care initiatives, more attention should be paid to the sexual problems and needs of this group. Age-specific interventions should be developed.

Gepubliceerd in 2017, Volume 41, Issue 4

The impact of cancer on intimacy and sexuality: it has more impact than you think!

  • Auteur(s) Marjolein E.M. den Ouden, Madeleen J. Uitdehaag
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Background: In the Netherlands the most prevalent types of cancer are prostate cancer (19.5% in men), breast cancer (28.1% in women), colon cancer (15.5% in men, 12.8% in women), and lung cancer (12.0% in men, 10.4% in women). The five-year survival rate has increased in recent year, underscoring the importance of taking long term consequences into account in the decision making process of treatment options. Cancer
(treatment) can affect quality of life in various ways, including the impact on intimacy and sexuality. The aim of the present review is to give an overview of the impact of breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer on intimacy and sexuality.
Methods: The electronic databases of PubMed (MEDLINE), Cinahl and Web of Science were systematically searched for studies describing the impact of cancer (i.e. breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer) on intimacy and sexuality. Domains of interest were sexual function, sexual identity and sexual relation.
Results: The search strategy resulted in 80 studies, of which 45 on breast cancer, 20 on prostate cancer, 5 on colon cancer and 10 on lung cancer. Most studies were focussed on the negative impact of cancer (treatment)
on sexual function. Conclusion: Breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer (treatment) impact all domains of sexual functioning (sexual function, sexual identity and sexual relation). Both patients and partners should be informed about the impact of cancer on intimacy and sexuality. Patients and partners expect that professionals initiate the conversation about this topic.

Gepubliceerd in 2017, Volume 41, Issue 4

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