Objectives: Painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia) is a distressing condition affecting a large proportion of gynecological cancer survivors, yet treatments remain limited and poorly studied. This multicenter prospective interventional study examined the feasibility, acceptability and effects of multimodal pelvic floor physical therapy in gynecological cancer survivors with dyspareunia.
Methods: Thirty-one endometrial and cervical cancer survivors with dyspareunia participated in 12 weekly 60-min physical therapy sessions combining education, manual therapy, pelvic floor muscle exercises using biofeedback and home exercises, which included the use of a dilator. The adherence rate to home exercises (≥80%), the attendance rate at physical therapy sessions (≥80% of participants attending ≥10 sessions) and the dropout rate (˂15%) served as feasibility and acceptability outcomes and benchmarks. Pain intensity, pain quality, sexual function, pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms and quality of life were measured at baseline and post-treatment. Treatment satisfaction and participants' perceived improvement were also assessed.
Results: The adherence rate was 88% (SD 10), 29/31 (94%) women attended ≥10 treatment sessions, and the dropout rate was 3%. Moreover, women experienced significant improvements in all outcomes after the intervention (p ≤ 0.044). They also reported being highly satisfied with the treatment (9.3/10 (SD 1.2)), and 90% of them were very much or much improved.
Conclusions: Our findings support the feasibility and acceptability of multimodal pelvic floor physical therapy for gynecological cancer survivors with dyspareunia. The intervention also led to significant improvements in pain, sexual function, pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms and quality of life. A randomized controlled trial is needed to confirm these results.
Keywords: Acceptability; Dyspareunia; Gynecological cancer survivors; Pain; Physical therapy; Sexual function.
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