Sexual dysfunction in female cancer survivors: Addressing the problems and the remedies

  • Taryn Smith
    Corresponding author at: Section of Women's Health, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 4500 San Pablo Rd S/ Davis 8, Jacksonville, FL 32224, United States of America.
    Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL, United States of America

    Mayo Clinic Women's Health, Rochester, MN, United States of America
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  • Sheryl A. Kingsberg
    Department of OBGYN, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, United States of America
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  • Stephanie Faubion
    Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL, United States of America

    Mayo Clinic Women's Health, Rochester, MN, United States of America
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      • Sexual dysfunction in female cancer survivors is prevalent yet underdiagnosed and undertreated.
      • Multiple direct and indirect factors can contribute to sexual dysfunction in female cancer survivors.
      • Clinicians should, at a minimum, be aware of the various potential treatment modalities, taking into account contributing physical, psychological and interpersonal factors.
      • Management of sexual health concerns should be individualized based on influencing factors.


      This narrative review examines current evidence regarding sexual function in female cancer survivors, focusing on the impact of cancer treatments as well as the evaluation and management of sexual concerns in this population. Sexual dysfunction in female cancer survivors is prevalent, yet underdiagnosed and undertreated. Many healthcare professionals feel ill-equipped to address the sexual health needs of female cancer survivors. Multiple direct and indirect factors can contribute to sexual dysfunction in female cancer survivors, including effects on the hormonal milieu and physical and sexual well-being. Factors influencing sexual function after cancer may be multifaceted, warranting a multidisciplinary approach to care. Validating and normalizing sexual health concerns and providing education and appropriate therapies, as well as timely referral to appropriate sexual health experts, are key to optimizing cancer survivorship care in women. Clinicians should, at a minimum, be aware of the various potential treatment modalities, taking into account contributing physical, psychological and interpersonal factors. Management of sexual health concerns should be individualized based on contributing factors.


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