Longitudinal study of sexual function and vaginal changes after radiotherapy for cervical cancer

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


PURPOSE: To investigate the longitudinal course of self-reported sexual function and vaginal changes in patients disease free after radiotherapy (RT) for locally advanced, recurrent, or persistent cervical cancer.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 118 patients referred for RT were included. The patients were assessed, using a validated self-assessment questionnaire, at the termination of RT and 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months later. The results were compared with an age-matched control group from the general population.

RESULTS: Persistent sexual dysfunction and adverse vaginal changes were reported throughout the 2 years after RT, with small changes over time: approximately 85% had low or no sexual interest, 35% had moderate to severe lack of lubrication, 55% had mild to severe dyspareunia, and 30% were dissatisfied with their sexual life. A reduced vaginal dimension was reported by 50% of the patients, and 45% were never, or only occasionally, able to complete sexual intercourse. Despite sexual dysfunction and vaginal adverse effects, 63% of those sexually active before having cancer remained sexually active after treatment, although with a considerably decreased frequency.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients who are disease free after RT for locally advanced, recurrent, or persistent cervical cancer are at high risk of experiencing persistent sexual and vaginal problems compromising their sexual activity and satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)937-49
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2003


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local/radiotherapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiation Injuries/etiology
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological/etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/physiopathology
  • Vagina/radiation effects
  • Vaginal Neoplasms/physiopathology


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