Review Article

Holistic sexuality post gynaecological cancer treatment: A review of recent literature

Sorrel C. Pitcher, Tracey Adams, Leon van Wijk, Nazia Fakie, Rakiya Saidu, Lynette Denny, Jennifer Moodley
South African Journal of Oncology | Vol 2 | a40 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajo.v2i0.40 | © 2018 Sorrel Pitcher, Tracey Adams, Adriaan Leon van Wijk, Nazia Fakie, Rakiya Saidu, Lynette Denny, Jennifer Moodley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2018 | Published: 28 June 2018

About the author(s)

Sorrel C. Pitcher, SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Tracey Adams, SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Gynaecological Oncology, Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa
Leon van Wijk, SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Radiation Oncology, Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa
Nazia Fakie, SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Radiation Oncology, Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa
Rakiya Saidu, SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Gynaecological Oncology, Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa
Lynette Denny, SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape town, South Africa
Jennifer Moodley, SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Cancer Research Initiative, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Women’s Health Research Unit, University of Cape Town, South Africa; School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Sexual difficulties post gynaecological cancer treatment are commonplace and can impact multiple aspects of a woman’s life. Yet, health care practitioners remain reluctant to discuss sexuality from a holistic perspective with their patients.

Aim: This article reviewed the literature on sexuality post gynaecological cancer treatment from the last 10 years. The aim was to understand research trends as well as identify gaps in the field.

Methods: The review was framed using the neo-theoretical framework of sexuality. A comprehensive literature search, using the electronic databases EBSCOHost, Ovid, Clinical Key and PubMed, was conducted for articles concentrating on sexuality after gynaecological cancer treatment, published from 2007 to 2017 in English.

Results: The results showed that the majority of the literature still approaches sexuality post treatment from a biomedical perspective with a focus on physical sexual functioning. However, there has been a slight shift towards understanding sexuality from a comprehensive standpoint, although there is a dearth of research relating to the psychological and relational aspects of sexuality.

Conclusion: Comprehensive sexuality post treatment should be given further consideration in South Africa, and our unique socio-cultural context ought to be taken into consideration. Additionally, interventions at multiple levels should be explored, such as broadening sexual health training within the medical curriculum, considering the development of holistic cancer clinics and widening the scope of research relating to gynaecological cancer care.


Keywords

gynae-oncology; sexual functioning; sexuality post treatment

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