Early-stage cervical carcinoma, radical hysterectomy, and sexual function. A longitudinal study

Pernille T Jensen, Mogens Groenvold, Marianne C Klee, Ingrid Thranov, Morten Aa Petersen, David Machin


BACKGROUND: Limited knowledge exists concerning the impact of radical hysterectomy (RH) alone on the sexual function of patients with early-stage cervical carcinoma. The authors investigated the longitudinal course of self-reported sexual function after RH.

METHODS: The current study was comprised of 173 patients with lymph node-negative, early-stage cervical carcinoma who had undergone RH and pelvic lymphadenectomy. They were assessed prospectively using a validated self-assessment questionnaire 5 weeks and 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months after RH. Results were compared with an age-matched control group from the general population.

RESULTS: Compared with control women, patients experienced severe orgasmic problems and uncomfortable sexual intercourse due to a reduced vaginal size during the first 6 months after RH, severe dyspareunia during the first 3 months, and sexual dissatisfaction during the 5 weeks after RH. A persistent lack of sexual interest and lubrication were reported throughout the first 2 years after RH. Long-term lack of sexual interest and insufficient vaginal lubrication were confirmed by the patient's self-reported changes 12 months after RH compared with before the cancer diagnosis and by a pre-post comparison within patients. However, most of the patients who were sexually active before their cancer diagnosis were sexually active again 12 months after surgery (91%), although with a decrease in sexual frequency reported.

CONCLUSIONS: RH had a persistent and negative impact on patients' sexual interest and vaginal lubrication whereas the majority of other sexual and vaginal problems disappeared over time. Sexual and vaginal problems in the short-term and long-term after RH should be discussed with the patient before and after surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma/pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy/adverse effects
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological/etiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/pathology
  • Vagina/physiology


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