Sexual Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment

Posted 5:12 pm, July 10th, 2011 by Rosann

Last month in the Breast Journal there was a groundbreaking article that went to press:  Current Overview of the Management of Urogenital Atrophy in Women with Breast Cancer by Pruthi (from the Mayo clinic ) et al who reviewed the concerns about sexual complaints as a result of breast cancer treatment.  The article discuss the concerns over the undiagnosed concern of vaginal dryness which can lead to severe pain during intercourse which has far reaching implications affecting, not only the cancer survivor herself but can impact the relationship dynamic. Although the researchers cite that vaginal and vulvar dryness can be relieved with minimally absorbed local vaginal estrogen preparations, the risk of recurrence and long term safety remains to be elucidated in breast cancer survivors.  They propose a treatment paradigm which includes non-hormonal moisturizers and lubricants coupled with lifestyle management as first line defense and treatment for vaginal atrophy.  Minimally absorbed local estrogen products, such as low-dose vaginal 17 b-estradiol (vaginal estradiol tablets or vaginal estradiol ring) may be considered for the treatment of symptomatic dryness that is unresponsive to conservative treatments after careful consideration and discussion between the patient and her oncologist.

Besides the concerns with dryness, the authors discuss some changes that can and do occur with the orgasmic response and overall sexual satisfaction. The authors mention Zestra®, “a botanical formulation composed of borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, angelica extract, coleus extract, vitamin C, and vitamin E stimulates sensory nerve conduction and has improved sexual function in postmenopausal women.” ( Pruthi; 2011 page 4)

Every woman is connected to breast cancer in some way- either a friend, family member, colleague or acquaintance has the disease. Breast cancer patients can rest assured that they are not alone, not destined to suffer sexual complaints and have their sensuality and sexuality robbed from them even in the face of disease.  Sexual concerns remain high on the priority list for breast cancer survivors and remaining sensually connected to their femininity and sensuality is an important quality of life concern.

This post was provided by guest blogger Dr. Michael L. Krychman, Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine.

REFERENCE:

Sandhya Pruthi, MD, James A. Simon, MD,_ and Amy P. Early, MD_

Current Overview of the Management of Urogenital Atrophy in Women with Breast Cancer.  The Breast Journal June 2011.

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Rosann Fisher is Internet Marketing Manager at Semprae Laboratories, Inc. To see more posts click here

Rosann

Rosann

Rosann Fisher is Internet Marketing Manager at Semprae Laboratories, Inc.

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