Earlier this year, we ran a piece in Contemporary Sexuality on how chronic illness can affect sexual functioning. A variety of illnesses were mentioned in this article, among them cancer, which often affects sexual functioning because of both the emotional and physical changes that occur as a result of diagnosis and treatment.
So the results of a new study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, on "Psychosexual Functioning Among Adult Female Survivors of Childhood Cancer," should come as no surprise.
Jennifer S. Ford, of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and her team, compared survey responses from 2,178 women who had been diagnosed with cancer before age 21 to answers by 408 of their sisters who had not had cancer. These researchers found that adult women who survived cancer as a child report having less sex, less interest, less desire, and less satisfaction than their sisters who never had cancer. In addition, women who had been diagnosed as teens, been treated with radiation of the brain, or who ceased menstruating at a younger age (or never began) were at the greatest risk for sexual dysfunction.
Ford explained that sexual problems such as lack of interest likely stem from the emotional consequences of growing up in cancer treatment. She also pointed out that the cancer itself, and its treatment, often lead to physical changes in the body.
You can read more about this study at Reuters.