Sexual dysfunction in women on adjuvant endocrine therapy after breast cancer

Menopause. 2013 Feb;20(2):162-8. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31826560da.


Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate sexual function in postmenopausal breast cancer patients treated with aromatase inhibitors.

Methods: A population-based, cross-sectional study was conducted among postmenopausal breast cancer patients on adjuvant endocrine treatment and age-matched controls with and without estrogen treatment. Sexual function was assessed with a standardized questionnaire.

Results: In all, 42.4% of aromatase inhibitor-treated breast cancer patients were dissatisfied with their sex life in general, and 50.0% reported low sexual interest; this was significantly more common than in tamoxifen-treated patients and controls (P < 0.05). Aromatase inhibitor-treated patients reported insufficient lubrication in 73.9% and dyspareunia in 56.5% of cases, which were significantly more common than in controls, irrespective of hormonal use (P < 0.05). Tamoxifen-treated patients reported significantly more dyspareunia (31.3%; P < 0.05) but resembled controls in all other concerns.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that sexual dysfunction in aromatase inhibitor-treated women is a greatly underestimated problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyspareunia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tamoxifen / adverse effects
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Tamoxifen