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Sexual Problems Can Persist Two Years After Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

Through questionnaires and phone interviews, the participants shared information about their sexual health, cancer treatment, any ostomy procedures, and fecal incontinence. They also described any discussions about sexual health that they’d had with their oncology team.

Overall, 54% of the participants said they felt less sexual desire. Sixty-one percent had intercourse less frequently, and 48% had fewer orgasms. About 60% reported having intercourse within the previous two weeks. Problems with desire and orgasm were more common for rectal cancer patients. People who were still experiencing fecal incontinence at the two-year follow up point tended to have more sexual issues.

Most of the respondents (89%) said they were satisfied with how often they hugged and kissed their partner, and 77% were satisfied with their intercourse frequency.

Sexual health discussions with providers were not common, however. Only 20% of men and 11% of women had had such a discussion. About a third of rectal cancer patients had had this conversation, compared to 11% of colon cancer patients.

“These results highlight the need for specific and effective sexual rehabilitation interventions, especially for patients with fecal incontinence and rectal cancer,” the authors wrote.

They also recommended “improved information delivery” from healthcare providers to colorectal cancer patients regarding sexuality.

Resources

American Cancer Society

“Treating Colorectal Cancer”

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/treating.html

“What Is Colorectal Cancer?”

(Last revised: February 21, 2018)

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/what-is-colorectal-cancer.html

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Almont, Thierry, MSc, PhD, et al.

“Sexual Health Problems and Discussion in Colorectal Cancer Patients Two Years After Diagnosis: A National Cross-Sectional Study”

(Full-text. January 2019)

https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(18)31322-5/fulltext

MedlinePlus

“Colon and rectal cancer”

(Reviewed: January 19, 2018)

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000262.htm

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