Most women undergoing conservative surgery for vulvar cancer maintain healthy body image and sex life

January 17, 2014

A new study finds that most women who undergo conservative surgery for vulvar cancer experience little to no long-term disruption to sexuality and body image. Published early online in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, the study also reveals factors that can increase women's risk of feeling negative emotions after surgery.

Women diagnosed with vulvar cancer are often treated with that involves the removal of substantial sections of the external genitalia. Because survival rates are extremely high for with early stages of the disease, it is important to understand the psychosocial issues that women experience following treatment.

Ellen Barlow, RN, of The Royal Hospital for Women in Australia, and her colleagues interviewed 10 women who had previously been treated for early stage vulvar cancer, with a focus on investigating the women's experiences of and .

The researchers found that the majority of women experienced little to no long-term disruption to sexuality and body image following conservative surgery to treat their cancer. Women's sexual satisfaction was affected more by intimacy and relationship status than physical arousal. Women tended to feel if they experienced more radical vulvar excision, multiple vulvar procedures, and/or swelling of the lower limbs (a potential complication of surgery). Some women expressed fear of possible removal of their clitoris, and all sexually active women expressed fear of pain on resumption of sexual intercourse.

"The findings indicate surprisingly good outcomes for sexuality and body image in women having conservative surgery for early stage vulvar cancer and support the concept of performing the most conservative vulvar resection consistent with cure of their disease," said Barlow. The authors noted a need for improved communication about sexuality and body image, specifically about resumption of . They also stressed that women should be counselled on how to prevent or alleviate sexual issues that may arise as a consequence of their treatment.

Explore further: Women with a high economic status claim to have better sex

More information: "Sexuality and body image following treatment for early-stage vulvar cancer: a qualitative study." Ellen L. Barlow, Neville F. Hacker, Rafat Hussain and Glenda Parmenter. Journal of Advanced Nursing; Published Online: January 17, 2014 (DOI: 10.1111/jan.12346) URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/jan.12346

Related Stories

Women with a high economic status claim to have better sex

January 15, 2014
An analysis based on the first Spanish National Sexual Health Survey, carried out in 2009, confirms that socioeconomic factors affect sexual satisfaction. People with a lower economic status claim to be less sexually satisfied, ...

Patients get little advice about effect of gynaecological cancer on sexuality, study says

February 21, 2013
A study in Ireland found that women recovering from gynaecological cancer received little advice from healthcare professionals about the effects of the disease on sexuality. This was not as important in initial stages of ...

Improved sexual functioning, hormones after weight-loss bariatric surgery

November 4, 2013
Women who underwent bariatric surgery experienced better sexual functioning, improvement in reproductive hormones, and better health-related and weight-related quality of life, according to a report published Online First ...

Chronic vulvar pain a reality for more than 100,000 women in southeast Michigan

September 14, 2011
For more than 100,000 area women, chronic vulvar pain (pain at the opening to the vagina) is so severe it makes intercourse, and sometimes sitting for long periods of time, painful, if not impossible.

Sexual function dramatically improves in women following bariatric surgery, study finds

November 4, 2013
The first study to look extensively at sexual function in women who underwent bariatric surgery found that significant improvements in overall sexual function, most reproductive hormones and in psychological status were maintained ...

Health and "hookups" correlated in first-year college women

January 15, 2014
Sexual experimentation outside of committed romantic relationships, or "hooking up," is typically portrayed by the media as unhealthy, especially for young women. These portrayals, however, are largely conjecture. Researchers ...

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.