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Tuesday, 09 September 2008 18:21

Emotions may play large female role in sexual satisfaction

California-Connecticut researchers found that cervical cancer survivors still achieved sexual satisfaction even when their ovaries were removed. Based on not being able to produce testosterone, the researchers concluded that emotions (psychology) may play a larger role in sexuality than hormones (biology).

Testosterone, in both males and females, contributes to sexual interest and desire (libido) and functioning. It is a steroid hormone that is secreted in the testes of males and the ovaries of females.

Howard P. Greenwald and Ruth McCorkle wrote the paper “Sexuality and Sexual Function in Long-Term Survivors of Cervical Cancer” in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Women’s Health (July 1, 2008, 17(6): 955-963. doi:10.1089/jwh.2007.0613).

Greenwald, from the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., and McCorkle, from the School of Nursing at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A. conducted the study to assess “… sexuality and sexual functioning among women treated for invasive cervical cancer over broad portions of the life cycle. Hysterectomy and oophorectomy, two widespread interventions in invasive cervical cancer, have potentially important effects on a woman's self-image and sexuality.”

The focused their study on 179 women between the ages of 29 and 69 years, all with histories of invasive cervical cancer. The women were listed within the Connecticut Tumor Registry, having cancer diagnoses lasting between six and 29 years.

The medical history of the women were adjusted based on age, social/economic background, diagnosis, and treatment, and other related factors.

The women’s relative sexuality and sexual function were assessed using the Sexual Adjustment Scale, the MOS-36, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies—Depression Scale (CES-D).

The results are found on page two. Please read on.

The results from the Greenwald-McCorkle study found that:

•    81.1% of the women were sexually active;
•    81.4% desired sex “sometimes,” “almost always,” or “always”; and
•    90.9% enjoyed sexual activities at least some of the time.

They found that the women’s sexuality and sexual function were not affected significantly by time or age, after being diagnosed with cervical cancer.

They added, “Women with hysterectomies (with or without oophorectomy) less often reported lack of interest in … and lack of desire for … sexual activity than women who had not had hysterectomies. Among women with hysterectomies, those with oophorectomies had a greater risk … of not enjoying sex but did not differ otherwise from those without oophorectomies.” [Abstract]

They concluded, “These findings suggest that cervical cancer survivors generally have a positive attitude toward sexuality and engage in satisfying sexual activity.” [Abstract]

Dr. Greenwald stated in a September 8, 2008 article by Fox News, “Our findings, which demonstrate the existence of widespread interest and satisfaction with sex in the absence of a crucial hormone underscore the importance of non-hormonal components of sexual interest and satisfaction. That may mean the key to sexual satisfaction is less about biology and more about psychology.” [Fox News: “Study: Sexual Satisfaction More Mental Than Physical”]

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