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A Prospective Single-Arm Study Evaluating the Effects of a Multimodal Physical Therapy Intervention on Psychosexual Outcomes in Women With Dyspareunia After Gynecologic Cancer

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Abstract

Background Dyspareunia affects most women after treatment for gynecologic malignancies. However, to date, evidence-based interventions remain limited and no study has examined the effects of multimodal physical therapy on psychosexual outcomes in these patients. Aim To assess the effects of multimodal physical therapy on psychosexual outcomes including sexual distress, body image concerns, pain anxiety, pain catastrophizing, pain self-efficacy and depressive symptoms in women with dyspareunia after treatment for gynecologic malignancies. Methods Thirty-one gynecologic cancer survivors with dyspareunia enrolled in this prospective single-arm interventional study. The participants undertook 12 weekly sessions of physical therapy incorporating education, pelvic floor muscle exercises with biofeedback, manual therapy and home exercises. Outcome measures were evaluated pre- and post-treatment. Paired t-tests were conducted to investigate the changes from pre-treatment (P-value ˂ 0.05) while effect sizes (Cohen's d) were calculated to measure the magnitude of the change. Main Outcome Measures Sexual distress (Female Sexual Distress Scale-Revised), body image concerns (Body Image Scale), pain anxiety (Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale), pain catastrophizing (Pain Catastrophizing Scale), pain self-efficacy (Painful Intercourse Self-Efficacy Scale) and depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory-II). Results Significant changes were found from pre- to post-treatment for all psychosexual outcomes. Women reported reductions in sexual distress (P ˂ 0.001, d = 1.108), body image concerns (P ˂ 0.001, d = 0.829), pain anxiety (P ˂ 0.001, d = 0.980), pain catastrophizing (P ˂ 0.001, d = 0.968) and depression symptoms (P = 0.002, d = 0.636) with an increase in pain self-efficacy (P ˂ 0.001, d ≥ 0.938) following the intervention. Clinical Implications The results suggest that multimodal physical therapy significantly improves sexual distress, body image concerns, pain anxiety, pain catastrophizing, pain self-efficacy and depressive symptoms in our sample of women with dyspareunia after treatment for gynecologic malignancies. The medium to large effect sizes obtained with the high proportion of women presenting meaningful changes according to the known minimal clinically important difference or clinical cut-off underlines the significance of these effects. Strengths & Limitations The current study used validated questionnaires to assess the psychosexual outcomes of a well-designed physical therapy intervention using multiple modalities to address the multifaceted aspect of dyspareunia in cancer survivors. This study did not include a control group, which may limit drawing definitive conclusions. Conclusion Findings showed that multimodal physical therapy yielded significant improvements in psychosexual outcomes in gynecologic cancer survivors with dyspareunia. A randomized controlled trial is indicated to confirm these results. Cyr M-P, Dumoulin C, Bessette P, et al. A Prospective Single-Arm Study Evaluating the Effects of a Multimodal Physical Therapy Intervention on Psychosexual Outcomes in Women With Dyspareunia After Gynecologic. J Sex Med 2021;XXX:XXX–XXX.

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Introduction: Female sexual dysfunctions (FSDs) are common in women of any age and have a huge impact on quality of life and relationships. They have a multifaceted etiology limiting the development of pharmacotherapies with a high rate of effectiveness. Safety issues are also a concern across the reproductive life span. Areas covered: The authors report the most recent advances in pharmacotherapy for premenopausal and postmenopausal women with a main focus on hypoactive sexual desire disorders (HSDD) and associated sexual symptoms. Good levels of evidence have emerged for psychoactive agents, such as flibanserin and bremelanotide, as well as hormonal compounds (transdermal testosterone). The authors also report briefly intravaginal DHEA (prasterone), local estrogen therapy (LET) and ospemifene to manage effectively vulvovaginal atrophy/genitourinary syndrome of menopause (VVA/GSM). In addition, they discuss promising therapeutic options highlighting the main reasons that hamper the availability of new-labelled products. Finally, they include the importance of the multimodal approach to address FSDs. Expert opinion: Approved pharmacotherapies for FSD are limited. Validated multidimensional instruments and adequate objective measures of physical and mental responses to sexual external and internal incentives are mandatory to identify women suitable to chronic or on-demand treatments and to assess their pattern of response in research and practice.
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Objective More than half of gynecological cancer survivors are affected by pain during sexual intercourse, also known as dyspareunia. Oncological treatments may result in pelvic floor muscle (PFM) alterations, which are suspected to play a key role in dyspareunia. However, to date, no study has investigated PFM function and morphometry in this population. The aim of the study was to characterize and compare PFM function and morphometry between gynecological cancer survivors with dyspareunia and asymptomatic women. Methods Twenty-four gynecological cancer survivors with dyspareunia and 32 women with a history of total hysterectomy but without pelvic pain (asymptomatic women) participated in this comparative cross-sectional study. PFM passive forces (tone), flexibility, stiffness, maximal strength, coordination and endurance were assessed with an intra-vaginal dynamometric speculum. Bladder neck position, levator plate angle, anorectal angle and levator hiatal dimensions were measured at rest and on maximal contraction with 3D/4D transperineal ultrasound imaging. Results Compared to asymptomatic women, gynecological cancer survivors showed heightened PFM tone, lower flexibility, higher stiffness, lower coordination and endurance (p ˂ .03). At rest, they had a smaller anorectal angle and smaller levator hiatal dimensions (p ˂ .05), indicating heightened PFM tone. They also presented fewer changes from rest to maximal contraction for anorectal angle and levator hiatal dimensions (p ˂ .03), suggesting an elevated tone or altered contractile properties. Conclusions Gynecological cancer survivors with dyspareunia present with altered PFM function and morphometry. This research provides therefore a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of dyspareunia in cancer survivors. Impact Our study confirms alterations in PFM function and morphometry in gynecological cancer survivors with dyspareunia. These findings support the rationale for developing and assessing the efficacy of physical therapy targeting PFM alterations in this population.
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Sexual dysfunction is one of the most prevalent and distressing treatment side effects for millions of female cancer survivors, yet the majority of survivors do not receive necessary information, support, or treatment for these sexual consequences. Cancer can devastate the body and impair sexual function and body image. Furthermore, all primary modalities of cancer treatment (surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy) have the potential to negatively impact sexual function. Assessment and identification by clinicians can be done efficiently and easily with short validated tools using a style of inquiry which starts by acknowledging how common sexual dysfunction is amongst cancer survivors rather than asking direct questions. Sexual concerns are impacted by psychological, biological, and interpersonal factors, and a multidisciplinary approach to treatment allows clinicians to comfortably inquire, assess, and refer if treatment is beyond their comfort or expertise.
Article
Background: Sexual distress is an important component of sexual dysfunction and quality of life and many different measures have been developed for its assessment. Aim: To conduct a literature review of measures for assessing sexual distress and to list, compare, and highlight their characteristics and psychometric properties. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using Scopus and PubMed databases to identify studies that developed and validated measures of sexual distress. The main characteristics and psychometric properties of each measure were extracted and examined. Outcomes: Psychometrically validated measures of sexual distress and a summary of relative strengths and limitations. Results: We found 17 different measures for the assessment of sexual distress. 4 were standalone questionnaires and 13 were subscales included in questionnaires that assessed broader constructs. Although 5 measures were developed to assess sexual distress in the general population, most were developed and validated in very specific clinical groups. Most followed adequate steps in the development and validation process and have strong psychometric properties; however, several limitations were identified. Clinical translation: This literature review offers researchers and clinicians a list of sexual distress measures and relevant characteristics that can be used to select the best assessment tool for their objectives. Strengths and limitations: A thorough search procedure was used; however, there is still a chance that relevant articles might have been missed owing to our search methodology and inclusion criteria. Conclusion: This is a novel and state-of-the-art review of assessment tools for sexual distress that includes valuable information measure selection in the study of sexual distress and sexual dysfunction. Santos-Iglesias P, Mohamed B, Walker L. A Systematic Review of Sexual Distress Measures. J Sex Med 2018;XX:XXX-XXX.
Article
Background: Sexual dysfunction is a distressing long-term effect after gynecological cancer and affects the majority of survivors for years after the completion of therapy. Despite its prevalence, treatment-related sexual dysfunction is underrecognized and undertreated for survivors. Thus, the aim of this study was to develop and test a brief psychoeducational intervention for managing sexual dysfunction for women who have undergone treatment for ovarian cancer (OC). Methods: Forty-six OC survivors with documented, treatment-related sexual dysfunction received a single half-day group intervention that included sexual health education and rehabilitation training, relaxation and cognitive behavioral therapy skills to address sexual symptoms, and a single tailored booster telephone call 4 weeks after the group. Assessment measures were completed at the baseline (baseline 1), after an 8-week no-treatment run-in period (baseline 2), and then again 2 and 6 months after the intervention. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to assess sexual functioning, and the Brief Symptom Inventory 18 (BSI-18) was used to capture psychological distress. Results: Between baseline 1 and baseline 2, there were no significant changes in the study measures, and this indicated no natural improvement during the run-in period. In contrast, the total FSFI scores improved significantly from baseline 1 to the 2- (n = 45; P < .0005) and 6-month time points (n = 42; P < .05). The BSI-18 scores were also significantly improved at the 2- (P < .005) and 6-month time points (P < .01) in comparison with baseline 1. Conclusions: This brief behavioral intervention led to significant improvements in overall sexual functioning and psychological distress that were maintained at the 6-month follow-up. The results demonstrate the feasibility of this brief, low-intensity behavioral intervention and support the development of a larger randomized controlled trial. Cancer 2018;124:176-82. © 2017 American Cancer Society.
Article
The repercussions of cancer diagnosis and treatment profoundly impact the sexual wellbeing of women prior to, during, and following cancer treatment. Sexual health concerns are often under-addressed within clinical and research settings, and information tends to be limited to women with breast or gynecological cancers. In this narrative literature review, the authors critically evaluate research published between 1990 and 2016, pertaining to sexual health concerns of women diagnosed with cancer, of any type or stage, and to the psychosocial and biomedical interventions that currently exist for the treatment of sexual health-related side-effects (e.g. vaginal dryness, dyspareunia and vulvo-vaginal atrophy). The findings of 109 published articles are discussed and summarised according to four central themes: how cancer affects female sexual wellbeing; physical impacts of cancer diagnosis and treatment; emotional impacts of cancer diagnosis and treatment; and interventions for sexual dysfunction. Suggestions to enhance research and clinical practice in relation to the sexual health concerns of women following cancer treatments are also presented. Concerns pertaining to women's sexual health are diverse, multiple, and pervade all types and stages of cancer. Several evidence-based psychosocial and biomedical interventions exist to help women manage physical and psychosocial ramifications of cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Article
Introduction: Pelvic floor muscle physical therapy is recommended in clinical guidelines for women with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD). Including isolated or combined treatment modalities, physical therapy is viewed as an effective first-line intervention, yet no systematic review concerning the effectiveness of physical therapy has been conducted. Aim: To systematically appraise the current literature on the effectiveness of physical therapy modalities for decreasing pain during intercourse and improving sexual function in women with PVD. Methods: A systematic literature search using PubMed, Scopus, CINHAL, and PEDro was conducted until October 2016. Moreover, a manual search from reference lists of included articles was performed. Ongoing trials also were reviewed using clinicaltrial.gov and ISRCTNregistry. Randomized controlled trials, prospective and retrospective cohorts, and case reports evaluating the effect of isolated or combined physical therapy modalities in women with PVD were included in the review. Main outcome measures: Main outcome measures were pain during intercourse, sexual function, and patient's perceived improvement. Results: The literature search resulted in 43 eligible studies including 7 randomized controlled trials, 20 prospective studies, 5 retrospective studies, 6 case reports, and 6 study protocols. Most studies had a high risk of bias mainly associated with the lack of a comparison group. Another common bias was related to insufficient sample size, non-validated outcomes, non-standardized intervention, and use of other ongoing treatment. The vast majority of studies showed that physical therapy modalities such as biofeedback, dilators, electrical stimulation, education, multimodal physical therapy, and multidisciplinary approaches were effective for decreasing pain during intercourse and improving sexual function. Conclusion: The positive findings for the effectiveness of physical therapy modalities in women with PVD should be investigated further in robust and well-designed randomized controlled trials. Morin M, Carroll M-S, Bergeron S. Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Physical Therapy Modalities in Women With Provoked Vestibulodynia. Sex Med Rev 2017;X:XXX-XXX.
Article
Objectives - To assess whether sexual distress among cervical cancer (CC) survivors is associated with frequently reported vaginal sexual symptoms, other proposed biopsychosocial factors, and whether worries about painful intercourse mediates the relation between vaginal sexual symptoms and sexual distress. Methods - A cross-sectional study was conducted among 194 sexually active partnered CC survivors aged 25-69 years. Sexual distress, vaginal sexual symptoms, sexual pain worry, anxiety, depression, body image concerns, and relationship dissatisfaction, and the socio-demographic variables age, time since treatment, and relationship duration, were assessed using validated self-administrated questionnaires. Results - In total, 33% (n = 64) of the survivors scored above the cut-off score for sexual distress. Higher levels of sexual distress were shown to be associated with higher levels of vaginal sexual symptoms, sexual pain worry, relationship dissatisfaction, and body image concerns. Furthermore, the results showed that sexual pain worry partly mediated the association between vaginal sexual symptoms and sexual distress, when controlling for relationship dissatisfaction and body image concerns. Conclusions - Appropriate rehabilitation programs should be developed for CC survivors, to prevent and reduce not only vaginal sexual symptoms, but also sexual pain worry, relationship dissatisfaction and body image concerns, in order to reduce sexual distress.
Article
STUDY QUESTION To what extent are endometriosis and its related physical and mental symptoms associated with the perceived level of sexual functioning in women and their male partners? SUMMARY ANSWER Dyspareunia and depressive symptoms are associated with impaired sexual functioning in women with endometriosis, whereas sexual functioning in their male partners is not affected. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY Women with endometriosis suffer from more dyspareunia, lower sexual functioning, and lower quality of life. In qualitative studies, partners of women with endometriosis report that endometriosis affected their quality of life and produced relational distress. STUDY DESIGN SIZE, DURATION In this cross-sectional study, sexual functioning in women with endometriosis (n = 83) and their partners (n = 74) was compared with sexual functioning in a control group of women attending the outpatient department for issues related to contraception (n = 40), and their partners (n = 26). PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS Women and partners were recruited in the Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC) and the VieCuri Medical Centre Venlo between June 2011 and December 2012. All participants were asked to complete a set of online questionnaires. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE Response rates were 59.3% (83/140) for women with endometriosis and 52.3% (74/140) for their partners. Response rates in the control group were respectively 43.2% and 27.4% (41/95 and 27/95), of whom 40 women and 26 partners could be included in the study. Women with endometriosis as compared with the control group, reported significantly more frequent pain during intercourse (53% versus 15%, P < 0.001); higher levels of chronic pain (median VAS 2.0 cm versus 0.0 cm, P < 0.001); more impairment of sexual functioning (median Female Sexual Function Index 25.4 versus 30.6, P < 0.001); more impairment of quality of life (median Short Form-12 66.3 versus 87.2, P < 0.001); more pain catastrophizing (mean Pain Catastrophizing Scale 17.8 versus 8.5, P < 0.001), more depression and anxiety symptoms (median Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale for depression 7 versus 4, P < 0.001 and for anxiety 4 versus 1, P < 0.001). Sexual functioning was comparable between male partners of women with endometriosis and male partners of the control group based on the International Index of Erectile Function. Logistic regression analyses showed that dyspareunia (OR 0.54; 95% CI 0.39–0.75) and depressive symptoms (OR 0.761; 95% CI 0.58–0.99) were independent and significant negative predictors for sexual functioning. Chronic pelvic pain (OR 0.53; 95% CI 0.35–0.81) and depressive symptoms (OR 0.65; 95% CI 0.44–0.96) were independent and significant negative predictors for quality of life. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION Patient recruitment was performed in one tertiary care centre and to a lesser extent one general hospital, possibly leading to an over-representation of patients with more severe endometriosis. All participating women had a partner and are therefore ‘survivors’ in relationship terms. This may have led to an underestimation of the impact of endometriosis on sexual functioning. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS It would be worthwhile to further explore the role of depressive symptoms in women with symptomatic endometriosis and to assess the effect of treatment of depressive symptoms on sexual functioning and quality of life. The fact that the partners did not report impaired sexual functioning could be a reassuring thought to women that might be discussed in the consulting room. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) The study was funded by the MUMC. An unconditional research grant was given by the Dutch Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology (21 June 2011). TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER Not applicable.
Article
As cancer therapies improve, the number of women surviving or living long lives with cancer continues to increase. Treatment modalities, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal therapy, affect sexual function and may cause sexual pain through a variety of mechanisms, depending on treatment type. Adverse sexual effects resulting from ovarian damage, anatomic alterations, and neurologic, myofascial, or pelvic organ injury may affect more than half of women affected by cancer. Despite the fact that no specialty is better qualified to render care for this consequence of cancer treatments, many obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) feel uncomfortable or ill-equipped to address sexual pain in women affected by cancer. Asking about sexual pain and dyspareunia and performing a thorough physical examination are essential steps to guide management, which must be tailored to individual patient goals. Understanding the cancer treatment-related pathophysiology of sexual pain aids in providing this care. Effective mechanism-based treatments for sexual pain and dyspareunia are available, and by using them, knowledgeable ob-gyns can enhance the quality of life of potentially millions of women affected by cancer.
Article
Introduction: The incidence and prevalence of various sexual dysfunctions in women and men are important to understand to designate priorities for epidemiologic and clinical research. Aim: This manuscript was designed to conduct a review of the literature to determine the incidence and prevalence of sexual dysfunction in women and men. Methods: Members of Committee 1 of the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine (2015) searched and reviewed epidemiologic literature on the incidence and prevalence of sexual dysfunctions. Key older studies and most studies published after 2009 were included in the text of this article. Main Outcome Measures: The outcome measures were the reports in the various studies of the incidence and prevalence of sexual dysfunction among women and men. Results: There are more studies on incidence and prevalence for men than for women and many more studies on prevalence than incidence for women and men. The data indicate that the most frequent sexual dysfunctions for women are desire and arousal dysfunctions. In addition, there is a large proportion of women who experience multiple sexual dysfunctions. For men, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction are the most common sexual dysfunctions, with less comorbidity across sexual dysfunctions for men compared with women. Conclusion: These data need to be treated with caution, because there is a high level of variability across studies caused by methodologic differences in the instruments used to assess presence of sexual dysfunction, ages of samples, nature of samples, methodology used to gather the data, and cultural differences. Future research needs to use well-validated tools to gather data and ensure that the data collection strategy is clearly described.
Article
Objective: The diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancer can cause short- and long-term negative effects on sexual health and quality of life (QoL). The aim of this article is to present a comprehensive overview of the sexual health concerns of gynecologic cancer survivors and discuss evidence-based treatment options for commonly encountered sexual health issues. Methods: A comprehensive literature search of English language studies on sexual health in gynecologic cancer survivors and the treatment of sexual dysfunction was conducted in MEDLINE databases. Relevant data are presented in this review. Additionally, personal and institutional practices are incorporated where relevant. Results: Sexual dysfunction is prevalent among gynecologic cancer survivors as a result of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy-negatively impacting QoL. Many patients expect their healthcare providers to address sexual health concerns, but most have never discussed sex-related issues with their physician. Lubricants, moisturizers, and dilators are effective, simple, non-hormonal interventions that can alleviate the morbidity of vaginal atrophy, stenosis, and pain. Pelvic floor physical therapy can be an additional tool to address dyspareunia. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be beneficial to patients reporting problems with sexual interest, arousal, and orgasm. Conclusion: Oncology providers can make a significant impact on the QoL of gynecologic cancer survivors by addressing sexual health concerns. Simple strategies can be implemented into clinical practice to discuss and treat many sexual issues. Referral to specialized sexual health providers may be needed to address more complex problems.
Article
The surgical management of gynecologic cancer can cause short- and long-term effects on sexuality, emotional well being, reproductive function, and overall quality of life (QoL). Fortunately, innovative approaches developed over the past several decades have improved oncologic outcomes and reduced treatment sequelae; however, these side effects of treatment are still prevalent. In this article, we provide an overview of the various standard-of-care pelvic surgeries and multimodality cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) by anatomic site and highlight the potential emotional and sexual consequences that can influence cancer survivorship and QoL. Potential screening tools that can be used in clinical practice to identify some of these concerns and treatment side effects and possible solutions are also provided. These screening tools include brief assessments that can be used in the clinical care setting to assist in the identification of problematic issues throughout the continuum of care. This optimizes quality of care, and ultimately, QoL in these women. Prospective clinical trials with gynecologic oncology populations should include patient-reported outcomes to identify subgroups at risk for difficulties during and following treatment for early intervention.
Article
The purpose of this study was to examine whether or not vaginal elasticity or lack of lubrication is associated with deep or superficial dyspareunia. We investigated gynecological cancer survivors treated with radiation therapy. In a population-based study with 616 women answering a questionnaire (participation rate 78%) and who were treated with radiotherapy for gynecological cancer, we analyzed information from 243 women (39%) who reported that they had had intercourse during the previous six months. Analyses included log-binomial regression (relative risks) and multiple imputations by chained equations in combination with Bayesian Model Averaging, yielding a posterior probability value. Age range of this cancer recurrent-free group of women was 29-80. Dyspareunia affected 164 of 243 of the women (67%). One hundred thirty-four women (55%) reported superficial pain, 97 women (40%) reported deep pain, and 87 women (36%) reported both types of dyspareunia. The relative risk (RR) of deep dyspareunia was 1.87 (CI 1.41-2.49) with impaired vaginal elasticity compared to normal vaginal elasticity. Age and lower abdominal swelling were separate risk factors for deep dyspareunia. However, effects remain after adjusting for these factors. The relative risk of deep dyspareunia was almost twice as high with impaired vaginal elasticity compared to normal vaginal elasticity. If we wish to treat or even prevent deep dyspareunia in women with gynecological cancer, we may use our knowledge of the pathophysiology of deep dyspareunia and increasingly provide dilators together with instructions on how to use them for stretching exercises in order to retain vaginal elasticity. Results highlight the need for studies with more precise questions distinguishing superficial from deep dyspareunia so that in the future we may be able to primarily try to avoid reduced vaginal elasticity and secondarily reduce the symptoms.
Article
Background: Cancer and its treatment can significantly affect appearance and body integrity. A number of studies have explored the impact of cancer and its treatment on body image, primarily in head and neck and breast cancer. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the construct of body image dissatisfaction and its measurement using a single question in patients with advanced cancer. Methods: Outpatients with advanced cancer were recruited (n=81). Assessments included Body Image Scale (BIS), Appearance Schema Inventory (ASI-R), Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) with a total symptom distress score (TSDS) and two subscales scores (physical distress [PHS] and psychological distress [PSS]), Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS), and one question assessing the overall appearance satisfaction from the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ). We also asked patients to rate the body image changes importance compared with five symptoms (pain, fatigue, depression, insomnia, lack of appetite). Results: Forty-seven (58%) patients had a BIS score >10 (body image dissatisfaction) with a median of 11 (first-third quartiles, Q1-Q3; 5-16) and a median ASI-R of 3.1 (Q1-Q3; 2.8-3.5). Sensitivity and specificity of ≤3 for body image dissatisfaction in the single overall appearance question using the BIS as a standard was 0.70 and 0.71, respectively. BIS score was significantly correlated with ASI-R (r=0.248; p=0.025), age (r=-0.225; p=0.043), HADS-A (r=0.522, p<0.001), HADS-D (r=0.422, p<0.001), PSS score (r=0.371, p=0.001), PHS score (r=0.356, p=0.001), TSDS score (r=0.416, p<0.001), and the overall appearance question (MBSRQ; r=-0.449, p<0.001). Conclusion: Body image dissatisfaction was frequent and associated with symptom burden. A single item ≤3 has a sensitivity of 70% for body image satisfaction screening.
Article
Introduction: Sexual health issues for women who have cancer are an important and under-diagnosed and under-treated survivorship issue. Survivorship begins at the time a cancer is detected and addresses health-care issues beyond diagnosis and acute treatment. This includes improving access to care and quality-of-life considerations, as well as dealing with the late effects of treatment. Difficulties with sexual function are one of the more common late effects in women. Aim: This article attempted to characterize the etiology, prevalence, and treatment for sexual health concerns for women with gynecological cancer. Methods: A systematic survey of currently available relevant literature published in English was conducted. Results: The issue of sexual health for women with cancer is a prevalent medical concern that is rarely addressed in clinical practice. The development of sexual morbidity in the female cancer survivor is a multifactorial problem incorporating psychological, physiologic, and sociological elements. Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and hormonal manipulation appear to have the greatest influence on the development of sexual consequences. Sexual complaints include but are not limited to changes in sexual desire, arousal, and orgasmic intensity and latency. Many women suffer from debilitating vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Conclusions: Many of the sexual health issues experienced by cancer survivors can be addressed in clinical practice. A multimodal treatment paradigm is necessary to effectively treat these sexual complaints in this special patient population.
Article
Background: Body image is a critical psychosocial issue for patients with cancer because they often undergo significant changes to appearance and functioning. The primary purpose of this review article was to identify empirically-supported approaches to treat body image difficulties of adult cancer patients that can be incorporated into high-quality comprehensive cancer care. Methods: An overview was provided of theoretical models of body image relevant to cancer patients, and findings were presented from published literature on body image and cancer from 2003 to 2013. These data were integrated with information from the patient-doctor communication literature to delineate a practical approach for assessing and treating body image concerns of adult cancer patients. Results: Body image difficulties were found across patients with diverse cancer sites, and were most prevalent in the immediate postoperative and treatment period. Age, body mass index, and specific cancer treatments have been identified as potential risk factors for body image disturbance in cancer patients. Current evidence supports the use of time-limited cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions for addressing these difficulties. Other intervention strategies also show promise but require further study. Potential indicators of body image difficulties were identified to alert health care professionals when to refer patients for psychosocial care, and a framework was proposed for approaching conversations about body image that can be used by the oncologic treatment team. Conclusions: Body image issues affect a wide array of cancer patients. Providers can use available evidence combined with information from the health care communication literature to develop practical strategies for treating body image concerns of patients with cancer.
Article
Bremelanotide is a novel heptapeptide melanocortin receptor-4 agonist. This study examined its at-home, as-needed subcutaneous self-administration by premenopausal women with female sexual dysfunctions. Key outcomes were subjected to prespecified responder analyses. After 4 weeks of at-home placebo self-dosing (baseline period), premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, female sexual arousal disorder, or both were randomized to 12-week, at-home use of placebo or bremelanotide at 0.75, 1.25, or 1.75 mg. End points included changes from baseline to end of study in the monthly number of satisfying sexual events and in Female Sexual Function Index total score and Female Sexual Distress Scale-Desire/Arousal/Orgasm total score. Analyses of percent of responders were anchored to expert estimates of minimal clinically important differences: +1 for satisfying sexual events, +2.1 for Female Sexual Function Index, and -7 for Female Sexual Distress Scale-Desire/Arousal/Orgasm. Overall, 327 randomized participants used at-home study drug and provided data (for satisfying sexual events, 324). For placebo and bremelanotide at 0.75 mg, 1.25 mg, 1.75 mg, and 1.25 and 1.75 mg pooled, responder rates were 37%, 38%, 48%, 55%, and 51% for satisfying sexual events; 46%, 45%, 61%, 69%, and 65% on the Female Sexual Function Index; and 45%, 49%, 60%, 69%, and 64% on the Female Sexual Distress Scale-Desire/Arousal/Orgasm. For all three end points, the difference from placebo was statistically significant (P <.05, Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test) at 1.75 mg and at 1.25 and 1.75 mg pooled. Premenopausal women using self-administered subcutaneous bremelanotide for female sexual dysfunctions showed dose-dependent separations from placebo in the percentages of patients reaching expert-determined minimally clinically important differences for three clinically relevant variables with statistical significance compared with placebo for all three responder rates at 1.75 mg and 1.25 mg and 1.75 mg pooled.
Article
Although it is known that women with dyspareunia suffer from impaired psychological and sexual functioning, the study of the various dimensions of sexual self-schema and their associations with these outcomes has been neglected. To examine whether self-image cognitions about vaginal penetration, body image, and feelings and beliefs about one's own genitals contribute to the variance in pain, sexual functioning, and sexual distress. Premenopausal women (n = 231; M age = 24.85, SD = 5.55) with self-reported dyspareunia completed an online survey focusing on self-image cognitions about vaginal penetration, body image, female genital self-image, pain during intercourse, sexual functioning, sexual distress, anxiety, and catastrophizing. (i) Pain intensity during intercourse, (ii) the Female Sexual Function Index without the Pain subscale, and (iii) the Female Sexual Distress Scale. Controlling for anxiety and catastrophizing, negative self-image cognitions about vaginal penetration, negative body image, and negative genital self-image together accounted for a portion of the variance in increased pain intensity, sexual dysfunction, and sexual distress. However, only self-image cognitions about vaginal penetration (β = 0.25, P = 0.005) contributed uniquely to the variance in pain intensity, whereas self-image cognitions about vaginal penetration (β = -0.18, P = 0.048) and genital self-image (β = 0.21, P = 0.008) contributed independently to the variance in sexual functioning. Finally, self-image cognitions about vaginal penetration (β = 0.28, P < 0.001), body image (β = 0.24, P < 0.001) and genital self-image (β = -0.14, P = 0.006) each contributed independently to the variance in sexual distress. Findings suggest that self-image cognitions about vaginal penetration and feelings and beliefs about one's own body and genitals are associated with pain and sexuality outcomes in women with dyspareunia. Pazmany E, Bergeron S, Van Oudenhove L, Verhaeghe J, and Enzlin P. Aspects of sexual self-schema in premenopausal women with dyspareunia: Associations with pain, sexual function, and sexual distress. J Sex Med **;**:**-**.
Article
Introduction Entry dyspareunia is a sexual health concern which affects about 21% of women in the general population. Characterized by pain provoked during vaginal penetration, introital dyspareunia has been shown by controlled studies to have a negative impact on the psychological well-being, sexual function, sexual satisfaction, and quality of life of afflicted women. Many cognitive and affective variables may influence the experience of pain and associated psychosexual problems. However, the role of the partner's cognitive responses has been studied very little. Aim The aim of the present study was to examine the associations between partners' catastrophizing and their perceptions of women's self-efficacy at managing pain on one side and women's pain intensity, sexual function, and sexual satisfaction on the other. Methods One hundred seventy-nine heterosexual couples (mean age for women = 31, SD = 10.0; mean age for men = 33, SD = 10.6) in which the woman suffered from entry dyspareunia participated in the study. Both partners completed quantitative measures. Women completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale and the Painful Intercourse Self-Efficacy Scale. Men completed the significant-other versions of these measures. Main Outcome Measures Dependent measures were women's responses to (i) the Pain Numeric Visual Analog Scale; (ii) the Female Sexual Function Index; and (iii) the Global Measure of Sexual Satisfaction scale. Results Controlled for women's pain catastrophizing and self-efficacy, results indicate that higher levels of partner-perceived self-efficacy and lower levels of partner catastrophizing are associated with decreased pain intensity in women with entry dyspareunia, although only partner catastrophizing contributed unique variance. Partner-perceived self-efficacy and catastrophizing were not significantly associated with sexual function or satisfaction in women. Conclusions The findings suggest that partners' cognitive responses may influence the experience of entry dyspareunia for women, pointing toward the importance of considering the partner when treating this sexual health problem. Lemieux AJ, Bergeron S, Steben M, and Lambert B. Do romantic partners' responses to entry dyspareunia affect women's experience of pain? The roles of catastrophizing and self-efficacy. J Sex Med 2013;10:2274–2284.
Article
Aim: The purpose of this paper is to examine how well research findings on dyspareunia (intercourse pain) fit the fear-avoidance (FA) model on pain. Results: The evidence suggests that the experience of pain in dyspareunia functions similarly to the pain reported in other pain conditions. There are also accumulating data showing that the central mechanisms of the FA model, such as catastrophizing, fear, hypervigilance and disability, are central to the experience of sexual pain. However, there are also some potential differences between sexual pain and other pain conditions that demand further attention in terms of the role of the partner, specific emotional consequences of avoidance and the effect of hypervigilance on sexual arousal. Conclusion: The results demonstrate the relevance of the FA model in sexual pain. They also imply that treatment methods for fear and avoidance in other pain conditions offer new avenues for treating sexual pain problems in the clinic. Future studies should focus on expanding how the mechanisms in the FA model contribute to sexual pain, as well as how treatments based on the model may be applied clinically.
Article
With a prevalence of 15-21 %, dyspareunia is one of the most commonly reported sexual dysfunctions in pre-menopausal women under the age of 40. Studies to date have focused primarily on clinical samples, showing that women with dyspareunia report overall sexual impairment, anxiety, and feelings of sexual inadequacy. However, little is known about their body image and genital self-image and few studies have sampled women exclusively from the general population. The aim of the present, controlled study was to investigate body image and genital self-image in a community sample of pre-menopausal women with self-reported dyspareunia. In total, 330 women completed an online survey, of which 192 (58 %) had dyspareunia and 138 (42 %) were pain-free control women. In comparison to pain-free control women, women with dyspareunia reported significantly more distress about their body image and a more negative genital self-image. Moreover, findings from a logistic regression, in which trait anxiety was controlled for, showed that a more negative genital self-image was strongly and independently associated with an increased likelihood of reporting dyspareunia. These results suggest that, in women with dyspareunia, body image and genital self-image are significantly poorer and would benefit from more attention from both clinicians and researchers.
Article
Objectives: Pain catastrophizing has emerged as a significant risk factor for problematic recovery after musculoskeletal injury. As such, there has been an increased focus on interventions that target patients' levels of catastrophizing. However, it is not presently clear how clinicians might best interpret scores on catastrophizing before and after treatment. Thus, the purpose of this study was to provide preliminary guidelines for the clinical interpretation of scores on pain catastrophizing among individuals with subacute pain after musculoskeletal injury. Methods: A sample of 166 occupationally disabled individuals with subacute pain due to a whiplash injury participated in this study. Participants completed a 7-week standardized multidisciplinary rehabilitation program aimed at fostering functional recovery. Participants completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) upon program commencement and completion. One year later, participants indicated their pain severity and involvement in employment activities. Separate receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were conducted to determine absolute pretreatment and posttreatment and percent change scores on the PCS that were best associated with clinically important levels of pain and employment status at the follow-up. Results: An absolute pretreatment PCS score of 24 best identified patients according to follow-up clinical outcomes. Posttreatment PCS scores of 14 and 15 best identified patients with high follow-up pain intensity ratings and those who did not return to work, respectively. PCS reductions of approximately 38% to 44% were best associated with return to work and low pain intensity ratings at follow-up. Discussion: The results indicate scores on catastrophizing before and after treatment that are clinically meaningful. These results may serve as preliminary guidelines to assess the clinical significance of interventions targeting pain catastrophizing in patients with subacute pain after musculoskeletal injury.
Article
Objective (1) To explore the reasons for not seeking help for severe pelvic floor symptoms after gynaecological cancer treatment. (2) To determine the willingness to undergo treatment for these symptoms. (3) To invite suggestions to improve outpatient care. Design Qualitative study using semistructured interviews. Setting Vulvar, endometrial or cervical cancer survivors treated in the Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands between1997 and 2007. Population Purposively selected sample from 138 eligible respondents to pelvic floor-related questionnaires, who were severely bothered by their symptoms (>75th percentile of domain sum score of questionnaires) and had not sought medical help. Methods After each semistructured interview, a checklist with reasons for not seeking help was complemented with newly mentioned reasons. The interviews were stopped when data saturation was accomplished, i.e. three consecutive interviewees had not revealed new reasons. The interviews were analysed by two researchers independently. Main outcome measure Help-seeking behaviour for bothersome pelvic floor symptoms. Results Fifteen interviews were conducted. Most reported reasons for not seeking help were that women found their symptoms bearable in the light of their cancer diagnosis and lacked knowledge about possible treatments. Seven women were willing to undergo treatment. Eleven women stated that care should be improved, specifically by timely referral to pelvic floor specialists and additional care by oncology nurses. Conclusions There is a need for standardised attention to adverse effects on pelvic floor function after cancer treatment. This could be realised by quantifying symptoms using questionnaires, standardised attention for such symptoms by gynaecological oncologists or oncology nurses, and timely referral to pelvic floor specialists of women with bothersome pelvic floor symptoms.
Article
The goal of this study was to evaluate a mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral intervention for sexual dysfunction in gynecologic cancer survivors compared to a wait-list control group. Thirty-one survivors of endometrial or cervical cancer (mean age 54.0, range 31-64) who self-reported significant and distressing sexual desire and/or sexual arousal concerns were assigned either to three, 90-minute mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy sessions or two months of wait-list control prior to entering the treatment arm. Validated measures of sexual response, sexual distress, and mood, as well as laboratory-evoked physiological and subjective sexual arousal were assessed at pre-, one month post-, and 6-months following treatment. There were no significant effects of the wait-list condition on any measure. Treatment led to significant improvements in all domains of sexual response, and a trend towards significance for reducing sexual distress. Perception of genital arousal during an erotic film was also significantly increased following the intervention despite no change in physiologically-measured sexual arousal. A brief mindfulness-based intervention was effective for improving sexual functioning. Geographic restrictions permitted only a select sample of survivors to participate, thus, the generalizability of the findings is limited. Future studies should aim to develop online modalities for treatment administration to overcome this limitation.
Article
To identify physical, psychological and social sexual concerns reported by gynecological (GYN) cancer survivors. A systematic review of the literature was conducted using CINAHL, PubMed and PsycInfo databases. Reference lists from articles provided additional relevant literature. Only research articles from peer-reviewed journals were included. A total of 37 articles were located; 34 explored women's sexual concerns following gynecological cancer diagnosis and treatment and 3 tested interventions for sexual concerns in women with gynecological cancer. Sexual concerns were identified across all dimensions of sexuality. Common concerns in the physical dimension were dyspareunia, changes in the vagina, and decreased sexual activity. In the psychological dimension, common concerns were decreased libido, alterations in body image, and anxiety related to sexual performance. And in the social dimension, common concerns were difficulty maintaining previous sexual roles, emotional distancing from the partner, and perceived change in the partner's level of sexual interest. Of the three psychoeducational intervention studies, two reported improvements in physical aspects of sexual function, and one reported improved knowledge, but without resolution of sexual concerns. Gynecological cancer survivors experience a broad range of sexual concerns after diagnosis and treatment, but the majority of studies emphasized physical aspects of sexuality, and may not adequately represent women's psychological and social sexual concerns. Health care providers should remain mindful of psychological and social sexual concerns when caring for gynecologic cancer survivors. Future research should systematically evaluate the full range of sexual concerns in large, representative samples of GYN cancer survivors and develop and test interventions to address those concerns.
Article
This study highlights psychosocial needs of gynecological cancer survivors, contributing to evaluation of the Cancer Survivors Unmet Needs measure. Of the 45 participants, 28.9% reported clinical anxiety, 20.0% mild-to-severe depression, and 15.6% had probable posttraumatic stress disorder. Strength of unmet needs was associated with anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, poorer quality of life, younger age, and greater time since diagnosis. Linear regressions showed clinical measures, quality of life, optimism, and self-blaming coping style explained 56.4% of strength of unmet needs. Anxiety, functional well-being, posttraumatic stress, and emotional well-being accounted for 40.7% of variance in fear of recurrence, with emotional well-being the strongest predictor.
Article
Our goal was to determine the prevalence of sexual dysfunction and identify risk factors associated with sexual morbidity in patients with early stage endometrial cancer. This prospective trial included patients with stage I-IIIa endometrial cancer, without evidence of disease, and one to five years out from primary surgical treatment. Patients who received chemotherapy were excluded. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to measure our primary endpoint of sexual function. Other patient reported outcome indices included: Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Endometrial (FACT-En), Center for Epidemiology Studies Depression scale (CES-D), and Menopausal Rating Scale (MRS). Of the 72 women treated for early stage endometrial cancer, 65% were married, 69% had a sexual partner, the mean age was 60, 86% had stage I disease, and 18% received radiation therapy. The median score for the FSFI was 16.6 (0-32.8; scores below 26 are diagnostic for sexual dysfunction). Eighty nine percent of the patients had a score below 26. There was a moderate correlation between the total FSFI score and FACT-En scores but not with CES-D or MRS. Histologic grade, relationship status, mental health, and diabetes significantly correlated with total FSFI scores in multivariate analysis. This patient population commonly thought to be at low risk actually suffers from severe sexual dysfunction. The four risk factors revealed by multivariate analysis need to be studied in greater detail in order to appropriately target patients and develop meaningful interventions.