MD, sexologist, Fellowship
24 years experience
Preoperative Sexual Functioning and Quality of Sexual Life in Colorectal Cancer
While sexual problems are common among colorectal cancer patients, they are not necessarily caused by surgical treatment, Dutch researchers report. The patients may already have sexual issues before surgery.
Noting that there was not much information available on colorectal cancer patients? sexual function and quality of sexual life before surgery, the researchers aimed to describe these aspects for both patients and their partners. They also wanted to use standardized sexual health assessments and compare the scores of those patients and partners to mean norm scores.
To do this, they recruited 136 patients who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but had not yet undergone surgical treatment. One hundred six of the patients? partners were also involved.
To measure sexual function and quality of life, the researchers used several questionnaires.
Male patients and male partners completed the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), which assesses erectile function, orgasmic function, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction, and overall satisfaction.
All of the women were given the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), which is used to evaluate arousal, lubrication, orgasmic function, sexual desire, sexual pain, and intercourse satisfaction.
Participants with partners completed the Golombok-Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction (GRISS), which addresses the quality of sexual life. They were also given the Maudsley Marital Questionnaire (MMQ), which examines relationship issues.
Finally, all participants completed an adapted version of the Self-Administered Comorbidity Questionnaire, which provides data on any comorbidities.
Mean norm scores were provided in the manuals of each questionnaire.
The researchers found that when compared to mean norm scores, both male and female colorectal patients had lower scores on the sexual functioning and quality of sexual life domains on the given assessments. Female patients had lower sexual functioning and lower quality of sexual life than male patients. The partners also had lower scores in these areas when compared to mean norm scores. Male partners had lower scores than male patients.
The lower scores could be explained by stress, as there were not many differences between the scores of colon cancer patients and those with rectal cancer. Past research has shown high levels of stress in cancer patients and a link between psychological issues (such as stress, anxiety, and depression) and sexual dysfunction.
In spite of the lower scores, however, the participants? scores on relationship functioning were comparable to the corresponding mean norm scores, suggesting that the sexual issues did not seem to damage relationships.
The findings could help healthcare providers consider the sexual needs of colorectal cancer patients. ?More information provision and/or psychosexual guidance may be needed preoperatively in order to give license to couples to discuss sexual problems and to search for adequate professional support during any point in treatment, especially as the majority of patients do not take the initiative to discuss the treatment options for possible sexual dysfunction,? the authors wrote.
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