Sexual Health Before Treatment in Women with Suspected Gynecologic Malignancy

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 Dec;26(12):1326-1332. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2016.6307. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Objectives: Sexual health in survivors of gynecologic cancer has been studied; however, sexual health in these women before treatment has not been thoroughly evaluated. The objective of our study was to describe the pretreatment characteristics of sexual health of women with suspected gynecologic cancer before cancer treatment.

Materials and methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of women with a suspected gynecologic cancer, who were prospectively enrolled in a hospital-based cancer survivorship cohort from August 2012 to June 2013. Subjects completed the validated Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Sexual Function and Satisfaction Questionnaire. Pretreatment sexual health was assessed in terms of sexual interest, desire, lubrication, discomfort, orgasm, enjoyment, and satisfaction.

Results: Of 186 eligible women with suspected gynecologic cancer, 154 (82%) completed the questionnaire pretreatment. Mean age was 58.1 ± 13.3 years. Sexual health was poor: 68.3% reported no sexual activity, and 54.7% had no interest in sexual activity. When comparing our study population to the general U.S. population, the mean pretreatment scores for the subdomains of lubrication and vaginal discomfort were similar, while sexual interest was significantly lower and global satisfaction was higher. In a linear regression model, controlling for cancer site, age remained significantly associated with sexual function while cancer site did not.

Conclusions: Problems with sexual health are prevalent in women with suspected gynecologic malignancies before cancer treatment. Increasing awareness of the importance of sexual health in this population will improve quality of life for these women.

Keywords: gynecologic cancer; quality of life; sexual health.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arousal
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / physiopathology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm
  • Pain
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Sexual Behavior* / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior* / psychology
  • Sexual Health*