Most studies of cervical cancer (CC) survivors describe sexual inactivity in relation to treatment modalities, but few consider that inactivity varies with age and partner status.
The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of sexual inactivity in long-term CC survivors according to age and partner status, and to examine cancer-related, health, demographic, and psychological factors related to sexual inactivity.
All 974 women treated for CC from 2000 through 2007 in 2 areas of Norway, who were alive and cancer-free by the end of 2013, received a mailed questionnaire. Among them, 523 delivered valid data on current sexual activity (response rate 57%). The prevalence rates of sexual inactivity in relation to age groups and partner status were compared to normative sample (NORMs).
Main Outcome Measure
Sexual inactivity during the 4 weeks before the survey was administered.
Median age of the sample at survey was 53 years (range 32–77) and median time since diagnosis was 11 years (range 6–15). Of the survivors aged 35–69 years, 39% (95% CI 35–44%) were sexually inactive at survey compared to 36% (95% CI 32–38%) in the NORMs. Compared with sexually active survivors, inactive ones were significantly older, more frequently had single partner status, and had less frequently been childbearing. Inactive survivors more frequently had low education, did not hold paid work at survey, had poorer self-rated health, and were more often obese. They also had higher prevalence of depression, high neuroticism, and chronic fatigue. On most cancer-related quality of life measures, sexually inactive survivors had significantly lower mean scores than sexually active ones. They significantly more often had been treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation than with conization or major surgery. In multivariable regression analysis, only older age, no prior childbearing, and single partner status remained significantly associated with sexual inactivity.
Sociodemographic variables may be more relevant than clinical and cancer-related variables concerning sexual inactivity in long-term CC survivors.
Strengths & Limitations
Our study had a considerable sample size and used instruments with established psychometric qualities. The moderate response rates of the study and of the NORMs imply risks for selection biases.
Close to 4 in 10 survivors were sexually inactive which is similar to the rate among NORMs. Demographic factors were most strongly associated with sexual inactivity. Some other significant factors are eventually amenable to treatment and should be checked by the health-care providers.||en_US