The objectives of this talk are to understand the reproductive and sexual life of women treated for breast cancer.
Methods: A survey with 139 women who had a diagnosis at least 6 months ago was carried out. Interviewees were randomly selected in a rehabilitation service. The interviews were conducted in 2010. Women treated of breast cancer were visited at home where a face to face questionnaire was administered. The questions approached sociodemographic features, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and reproductive and sexual life. Statistical analysis included the x2 test and Fisher exact test in the search for association. The qualitative component included 25 interviews with women treated of breast cancer using a semi-structure guideline.
Results: Women age ranged from 24 to 78 years old with an average of 54.6 years old. Most of them, 61.1%, had a sexual partner and between 2 to 3 children, 80% used some contraceptive. About half of them had had sexual intercourse in the last month, 45.3% had interrupted sexual intercourse during treatment and 25.9% did not. Half of the interviewees had re-started sexual life during the first six months after treatment. For some women a good affectionate relationship was the reason to maintain an active sex life, while for others the reason was the fear of losing the husband. Some women reported improvement in sex life after cancer, while some other reported worsening or no change at all. An active sexual life is associ- ated with being younger than 40 years of age and to have a partner. No association was found between active sexual life, the diagnosis and types of cancer treatment.
Conclusion: Sexual activity of women treated for breast cancer is not associated with the treatments, but with age and with the opportunity of having sex. The qualitative component of the research showed that the partner attention was pointed out as an important factor for improvement in sexual life after breast cancer.
As a psychology and medicine student in the sixties and early seventies I realized that sexology was missing in the education and training curriculum for most health professionals. This concern encouraged me to ask my own department and the University of Gothenburg to modify the current curricula making sexology a compulsory subject in the academic training for physicians and psychologists in the first place.
The psychotherapy section of the WPATH Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender nonconforming People (SOC) is the most obvious component of the SOC that has to do with “heart”, the theme of this conference. Psychotherapy, to be good, requires empathy and imagination, connection and relatedness, and listening to story.
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