Examining relationships among body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning in women with cervical and endometrial cancer
Author DetailsChristina M. Wilson, PhD, WHNP-BC
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Introduction: Over 74,000 US women are diagnosed annually with endometrial or cervical cancers and experience significant treatment-related difficulties with body image, sexuality, and sexuality. The aims of the research were to examine relationships among body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning, and understand women’s views of these concepts. A novel theoretical framework encompassing these three concepts and contextual variables guided the research.
Methods: A non-experimental cross-sectional pilot study was conducted with pre-menopausal women in an academic medical center who had stages I-III cervical or endometrial cancer, were 3-36 months post-treatment, and had no mental health diagnoses. Participants completed the Body Image Scale, Female Sexual Function Index, Female Sexuality Questionnaire, a demographic questionnaire, and open-ended questions and the researchers collected clinical data from the medical record.
Results: Twenty women participated, and most reported disruption in body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning. Significant relationships were found between body image and sexuality (p = 0.0244) and sexuality and sexual functioning (p <0.0003). Stages II-III disease were significantly (p= 0.0371) associated with worse body image. Women reported issues with body image, sexuality, sexual functioning, psychosocial areas, reproduction, and communication with healthcare providers and personal caregivers.
Discussion: This study is one of the first to examine relationships among body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning simultaneously, highlighting the importance of this approach. Despite design and sample limitations, results demonstrate a need for longitudinal studies using larger samples to further examine relationships among these concepts and selected contextual variables, explore communication issues, and refine the theoretical framework.