Changes to Sexual Well-being and Intimacy After Breast Cancer

Jane M. Ussher, PhD; Janette Perz, PhD; Emilee Gilbert, PhD


Cancer Nurs. 2012;35(6):456-465. 

In This Article


The findings outlined in this study are of significance to clinicians, as sexual well-being is central to psychological well-being and quality of life and sexual intimacy has been found to make the experience of cancer more manageable and to assist in the recovery process.[27,45] Health professionals can play an important role in ameliorating concerns surrounding sexual well-being after breast cancer, offering specific suggestions related to sexual enhancement products, emotional adjustment to sexual changes, and information for partners.[31,46] However, the finding that only 25% of participants in the present study had discussed sexual well-being with a health professional, despite the high levels of distress reported, is a matter of concern. This seems to confirm previous findings that few health professionals engage discussions of sexual well-being with people with cancer, even in areas where it might be expected, such as breast cancer.[47,48] Further research is needed to examine barriers that prevent discussion of sexual well-being after breast cancer with a health professional. Further education and training of health professionals are also required, in order that they will be able to advise couples affected by breast cancer on issues of sexual well-being and address unmet needs in this arena.