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Sexual dysfunction in women on adjuvant endocrine therapy after breast cancer

Baumgart, Juliane MD, PhD1,2; Nilsson, Kerstin MD, PhD1,3; Evers, Anneli Stavreus PhD4; Kallak, Theodora Kunovac MSc4; Poromaa, Inger Sundström MD, PhD4

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e31826560da
Original Articles

Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate sexual function in postmenopausal breast cancer patients treated with aromatase inhibitors.

Methods: A population-based, cross-sectional study was conducted among postmenopausal breast cancer patients on adjuvant endocrine treatment and age-matched controls with and without estrogen treatment. Sexual function was assessed with a standardized questionnaire.

Results: In all, 42.4% of aromatase inhibitor–treated breast cancer patients were dissatisfied with their sex life in general, and 50.0% reported low sexual interest; this was significantly more common than in tamoxifen-treated patients and controls (P < 0.05). Aromatase inhibitor–treated patients reported insufficient lubrication in 73.9% and dyspareunia in 56.5% of cases, which were significantly more common than in controls, irrespective of hormonal use (P < 0.05). Tamoxifen-treated patients reported significantly more dyspareunia (31.3%; P < 0.05) but resembled controls in all other concerns.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that sexual dysfunction in aromatase inhibitor–treated women is a greatly underestimated problem.

Author Information

From the 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden; Schools of 2School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden and3School of Medicine, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden; and 4Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Received April 1, 2012; revised and accepted June 19, 2012.

Funding/support: Funding for this project was provided by the Uppsala-Örebro Regional Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Society (grant CAN 2009/773), the Swedish Research Council (grant VR 621-2008-3562), Lions Clubs International, and the Percy Falk Foundation.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: I. Sundström Poromaa occasionally serves on advisory boards or speaks at scientific meetings for MSD, Bayer Health Care, and Lundbeck A/S. The other authors report no conflict of interest. The authors are solely responsible for the content and writing of this article.

Address correspondence to: Juliane Baumgart, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Örebro University Hospital, S-701 85 Örebro, Sweden. E-mail:

© 2013 by The North American Menopause Society.