Sexual Recovery After Cancer


Treatment for cancer is improving, and an increasing number of men and women are surviving its diagnosis. Despite improvements in survival, residual side effects of cancer and treatment offer survivors challenges related to quality of life. Among those most commonly mentioned in this population are concerns related to sexual function. Cancer and treatments can cause numerous symptoms related to sexual dysfunction including loss of libido and desire, difficulty with orgasm, physical challenges in engagement in sexual acts, issues related to intimacy, and more global issues related to mood symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and body image dissatisfaction. While pharmacologic agents have shown improvements in sexual functioning for men, their success for women has been more limited. Additionally, while patients with specific types of cancer have been the subjects of research on sexual dysfunction (e.g., prostate and testicular caners in men and breast and gynecologic cancers in women), patients across various cancer diagnoses experience sexual dysfunction. This paper will review the most current interventions and theoretical models for treatment of sexual dysfunction and offer a comprehensive plan for future intervention development and dissemination to improve sexual recovery after cancer.

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Conflict of Interest

Nicole R. Amoyal, Lauren Nisotel, and Don S. Dizon declare no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Don S. Dizon.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Integrating the Psychosocial

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Amoyal, N.R., Nisotel, L. & Dizon, D.S. Sexual Recovery After Cancer. Curr Sex Health Rep 7, 63–69 (2015).

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  • Cancer
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Sexual health
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Dyspareunia
  • Orgasmic disorders
  • Intimacy
  • Arousal disorders
  • Treatment-related toxicities
  • Male sexuality
  • Female sexuality
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer