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Young Female Breast Cancer Survivors: Their Sexual Function and Interest in Sexual Enhancement Products and Services

Herbenick, Debra PhD, MPH; Reece, Michael PhD, MPH; Hollub, Ariane MEd; Satinsky, Sonya MPH; Dodge, Brian PhD, MS

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000339252.91194.6c

Although American women are living longer after a breast cancer diagnosis, they may experience significant alterations in sexual function. However, little is known about the types of strategies that women are interested in using to address these sexual issues. This study used a reliable and valid instrument, the Sexual Function Questionnaire, to assess survivors' sexual function. Data were collected from 115 women who were younger than 50 years at diagnosis. Compared to normative controls, survivors scored significantly lower, indicating lower functioning, on most subscales of the Sexual Function Questionnaire and the overall measure, with the exception of the masturbation subscale on which they scored significantly higher. Most participants indicated moderate or strong interest in sexual enhancement products and comfort purchasing sexual enhancement products through various venues. Nurses and other health professionals might consider collaborations with entities of the adult retail industry to provide survivors with information about sexual enhancement products and their therapeutic potential.

Authors' Affiliation: The Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Department of Applied Health Science, School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Indiana University, Bloomington.

The authors are grateful to The Patty Brisben Foundation for an unrestricted grant in support of this research.

Corresponding author: Debra Herbenick, PhD, MPH, Department of Applied Health Science, HPER 116, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405 (

Accepted for publication April 17, 2008.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.