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Impact of cancer on psychosexuality: Cultural perspectives of Asian women

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Abstract:

Cancers and related treatments have devastating effects on psychosexual life of patients. This study helps us to understand the cultural perspectives of 50 Asian women diagnosed with cancer. Median age was 50+ years. Median duration of time from diagnosis to interview was 23 months. Thirty-eight per cent stopped sex before illness, 36% stopped sex completely whereas 18% stopped gradually after diagnosis; 8% continued to have sex till time of interview. Overall, 70% were living with spouse but not engaged in sexual intercourse; 31.4% slept in different room, 48.6% slept in the same room but without any form of sexual contact. Thirty-eight per cent believed sexual activity could cause cancer recurrence, and 30% believed cancer could be sexually transmitted. Eighty-two per cent reported acceptance of changes to physical appearance. Approximately 70–86% did not discuss sexuality with their doctor or spouse; 90% agreed doctors should ask about psychosexual issues on a routine basis. Approximately 74.4% reported good cooperation from spouse. Cultural beliefs of Asians pose as barriers to providing and receiving psychosexual affection between women diagnosed with cancer and their spouse. However, these beliefs also serve as protective factors in their mutual acceptance of change in psychosexual activities. Health-care professionals need to be sensitive to the vast cultural differences in psychosexual expressions and needs of women diagnosed with cancer.

Keywords: cancer; cultural perspectives; procreation; psychosexuality; sexual contacts

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-172X.2009.01797.x

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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