A study done in France has some intriguing findings in connection with sexual health and cancer.
The work, conducted by scientific professionals in Marseilles, hopes to start more discussion on counselling around sexual activity as a routine part of personalized care for patients, after cancer.
Because, it turns out that in the country known for providing women with “cooch coaches” after birth, less than half of cancer survivors are talking about sex with their healthcare providers.
Why is this important? Treatments like radiotherapy can have a strong, lasting affect on sex lives. For those receiving therapies such as pelvic radiation, evidence shows sex afterwards can be painful.
In women, pelvic radiation therapy can cause the vagina to shorten or narrow, and tight scar tissue can form and refuse to stretch.
And for both women and men, anxiety and depression as a side effect of having cancer can decrease levels of desire and interest in engaging in intercourse at all.
The study involved 4,181 participant responding to questions on a discussion about sexuality. When asked if they had been asked by their health care providers to engage in a discussion about their sexuality, 54.7% said that nobody had proposed a discussion to them, 21.9% did not want to talk about it, and about 23.4% had had a discussion already.
It was also found that women talked less about sexuality with their health care providers than men, and any discussion about sexuality was more likely to happen with health care providers for patients who had received treatment for prostate and cervical cancer.
If inequalities in the discussion about sexuality were observed in France, it could be likely they’re alive and well in other places.
For the French, researchers hope that supportive interventions, including more referrals for professional psychological help should be offered to all patients, irrespective of the seriousness of their sexual problems, their age, sex, cancer site, and care center.