Psychosocial Aspects of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Well-Being After Cancer

Authored by: Chloe Parton

Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138490260
eBook ISBN: 9781351035620
Adobe ISBN:


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Women report a range of body changes after cancer that can affect their reproductive and sexual well-being. Commonly reported experiences include premature menopause, diminished sexual functioning, increased body dissatisfaction, and psychological distress. Women’s life stage and relationship contexts can also affect well-being, as younger women report poorer psychological outcomes, and supportive partners appear to provide a buffer to psychological distress. In general, researchers have not critically engaged with cultural discourses that privilege a biomedical approach to sexual functioning, heterosexual relationship dynamics, or the value placed on women’s bodies for sexual attractiveness. In contrast, studies that adopt a discursive approach show how cultural ideals of survivorship, gender, and sexuality have shaped women’s identities after cancer. It is important for health care practitioners and policy makers to acknowledge the sociocultural context of women’s cancer experiences, including loss to sexual and reproductive health, while also normalising changes commonly experienced after cancer.

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