Factors related to sexual function in postmenopausal women with a history of breast cancer

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BackgroundThe normal life expectancy of survivors of early-stage breast cancer (BCS) underscores the need to address long-term quality of life issues in these women. Sexual dysfunction persists after breast cancer treatment, despite recovery in other domains.ObjectiveTo examine associations between a broad array of characteristics and sexuality in BCS.ParticipantsSixty-one postmenopausal BCS who were participants in a randomized, controlled trial of nonhormonal interventions for menopause symptoms and who had a partnered, intimate relationship.MethodsCross-sectional analysis of baseline trial data. Outcomes were standardized scales of sexual interest, dysfunction, and satisfaction. Candidate predictors included demographic, anatomical, medical, psychological, sociocultural, and hormonal characteristics. Forward, stepwise regression was used.ResultsRelationship quality, vaginal discomfort, education, and hot flashes were each associated with two of the three domains of sexuality assessed. Ten other factors entered predictive models: age, time since diagnosis, breast conservation, comorbidity, urinary incontinence, perceived health, body image, bioavailable testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and sex hormone binding globulin. Each of these 10 factors was associated with only one sexuality domain.ConclusionsIn this small sample of BCS, we found multiple correlates of sexuality. Most seem to impact uniquely on individual domains of sexual function. Several characteristics are modifiable and could be targets for intervention.

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