Predictors of Sexual Functioning in Ova Ca Pts

Predictors of Sexual Functioning in Ovarian Cancer Patients

Cindy L. Carmack Taylor, Karen Basen-Engquist, Eileen H. Shinn, Diane C. Bodurka

From the Departments of Behavioral Science and Gynecologic Oncology, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Address reprint requests to Cindy L. Carmack Taylor, PhD, Department of Behavioral Science, Box 243, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030; e-mail:

PURPOSE: To characterize sexual functioning of ovarian cancer patients and identify factors predicting sexual activity, functioning or satisfaction, discomfort, and habit or frequency.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data were collected on 232 women with epithelial ovarian cancer, 47% of whom were receiving treatment.

RESULTS: Fifty percent of the patients had engaged in sexual activity in the past month. Of those who were sexually active, 47% reported no or little desire, 80% reported problems with vaginal dryness, and 62% reported pain or discomfort during penetration.

Of those who were sexually inactive, reasons included no partner (44.1%), lack of interest (38.7%), physical problems making sex difficult (23.4%), and fatigue (10.8%). Partner factors also were identified, including physical problems (16.2%), lack of interest (15.3%), and fatigue (5.4%).

A multivariate model was used to predict sexual activity and included demographic, medical, and psychosocial factors as predictors. Women who were married (P < .001), were younger than 56 years (P < .001), were not receiving active treatment (P < .01), had a longer time since original diagnosis (P = .104), and liked the appearance of their bodies (P = .004) were more likely to be sexually active.

Univariate analyses indicated that demographic, medical, and psychosocial factors are significantly associated with sexual functioning or satisfaction, sexual discomfort, and sexual frequency or habit.

CONCLUSION: Sexual rehabilitation for ovarian cancer patients should address management of physical and psychologic symptoms and include the patient's partner when appropriate.

Supported by the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Physicians Referral Service institutional grant, the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and a cancer prevention fellowship supported by a National Cancer Institute grant (R25 CA57730, Robert Chamberlain, PhD, principal investigator).

Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 22, No 5 (March 1), 2004: pp. 881-889

DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2004.08.150

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