Sexual function in women after cervical cancer treatment at an academic hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa

Fakunle, Imoleayo Elizabeth
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Background: Cervical cancer is treated in various ways depending on the stage of the disease. The International Atomic Energy Agency guides the management of cervical cancer in resource limited countries. Due to advancement in the existing treatment modalities, a higher survivorship rate occurs in women who receive treatment. However, evidence states that cervical treatment has pronounced effects on sexual functioning which persists for long periods after treatment. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to explore the sexual function in women after completion of treatment at an academic hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. Methods: A cross sectional design was used in the study. The sampling method was convenience and used a calculated sample size of 147 (n =147). Structured interviews collected the data and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) served as data collection instrument. Kruskal Wallis tests were used to determine statistical significant difference between variables. Results: The majority of the women (94.6%; n=139) experienced sexual dysfunction which persisted over time. The most affected domains in sexual function were arousal and desire, while satisfaction was the least affected domain. Pain experienced during sexual activity after treatment persisted as time progressed. Conclusion: The majority of women treated for cervical cancer at an academic hospital in the Gauteng Province live with long lasting sexual dysfunction affecting all the domains of their sexual function. Although sexual dysfunction reached the highest level in the third month after treatment, there was little improvement over time. Age, educational level and sexual counselling before treatment did not influence sexual function.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nursing Johannesburg, 2016