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Counseling Cancer Survivors With Vaginal Pain

Counseling Cancer Survivors With Vaginal PainNurses are encouraged to consider a counseling model when treating female cancer survivors with sexual pain, according to a paper published last year in Nursing2017.

The model is called the Minimizing Pain with Vaginal Penetration Model (MPVP). As the name suggests, it targets pain with penetration. It also addresses other effects of sexual pain, such as low desire.

The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia. In cancer survivors, it is linked to three specific situations:

Vaginal Dryness

Typically, when a woman becomes sexually aroused, her vagina lubricates to prepare for penetration and make it more comfortable. But some cancer treatments disrupt this process. For example, surgical removal of the ovaries or chemotherapy might reduce a woman’s levels of estrogen, a hormone that is essential for vaginal health. Other treatments, like radiation and medications, can lead to vaginal dryness, too.

Nurses should counsel women about vaginal lubricants and moisturizers, the authors explained. Both products, which are available over the counter, can help with vaginal dryness, but they are used in different ways. Lubricants are applied as needed just before sex, but moisturizers are used every few days regardless of whether a woman is sexually active.

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