Consequences of Cervical Cancer Treatment on Sexual Health in Chinese Cancer Survivors
S Ye, X Yang, G He, P A. Maciek, W Zhou
Background: The attitudes and perceptions of cervical cancer survivors (CCS) toward sexual activity subsequent to a diagnosis of cervical cancer and its treatment are unknown. This study describes the experience of CCS in Hunan Chinese in relation to sexuality and sexual function after cervical cancer treatment.
Methods: We used descriptive phenomenology to qualitatively assess these experiences. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 20 CCS. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and analyzed according to Colaizzi’s method to explore the essence of the experience in sexuality among CCS after cancer treatment.
Results: Uncertainty, fear, and worry dominated the attitudes and behaviors of CCS-related to sexual activity after treatment. Four themes explain these complex emotional responses: 1) needing information; 2) dealing with sexual changes physically and emotionally; 3) communicating with a partner; 4) attribution of fault to her one-lifetime sexual partner.
Conclusion: Sexual life was influenced by the physical changes associated with cervical cancer treatment. These changes in combination with inadequate information and limited communication led to uncertainty, fear and worry about engaging in sexual activity and relationship distress. Chinese CCS need targeted and patient-centered information on the change in sexual life caused by treatment, anticipatory guidance, and support in communication with providers and partners, and strategies to cope with the physical and psycho-sexual sequelae of treatment, all of which must be congruent with their cultural norms.