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Can cervical cancer treatment affect one’s sex life?

The answer is it does, read this to know how!

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : January 21, 2018 6:13 PM IST

There have been a lot of talks, studies and discussions on how cancer treatments change the quality of life of survivors. For women survivors, questions of fertility, conception and pregnancy weigh in heavily post the treatments, especially if one is affected by any kind of cancer that is related to the reproductive organs or the genitals. Developments in the field of cancer treatment make it easier to lead a normal life post the treatment and improvements in the IVF procedures might also help a woman enjoy the bliss of motherhood. Read to know if oral contraceptives can lead to cervical cancer.

However, when it comes to a woman's sexual health most of the time we hush it up. Even for cancer like cervical cancer which is common and prevalent in the country affecting a woman in their reproductive age, the consequences on sexual health is not spoken much. According to the National Health Portal, India has a population of 436.76 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. 'Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer among women in India. It is a malignant tumour of the lower-most part of the uterus (womb), it occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina,' explains Dr Bandita Sinha, Gynecologist and Infertility Specialist, World of Women, Navi Mumbai.

But some studies have pointed out that the type of treatment used to treat women suffering from cervical cancer had an effect on their sexual life post the cancer. A study published in the Journal of clinical oncology in 2005 tried to explore the sexual quotient of women who underwent radiation treatment or hysterectomy to get treated for the cancer. In a five year follow up post the treatment where women were cancer free, it was noticed that among the two groups there was a huge difference in the way women enjoyed sex.

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It was seen that women who went for radiation therapy had less sexual interest than those who had undergone surgery. Although the desire for sexual intimacy was equal all the women, patients who went for radiation had significantly more sexual dysfunction with 85 percent of women reporting no interest in sex, 55 percent having dyspareunia, and 50 percent having vaginal shortening. Patients who had undergone radical hysterectomy did not suffer any sexual dysfunction, though they were three times more likely to struggle with vaginal dryness.

So, it is essential to talk to your gynaecologist to seek help if your sexual interests are waning post cervical cancer treatment.


DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2004.00.3996 Journal of Clinical Oncology 23, no. 30 (October 2005) 7428-7436.

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