Impact of bowel and stoma dysfunction on female sexuality after treatment for rectal cancer

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Aim: The aim of this study was to measure the impact of bowel dysfunction and a poorly functioning stoma on the risk of sexual inactivity and sexual dysfunction in female patients. Method: In a population-based cross-sectional study, Danish rectal cancer patients diagnosed between 2001 and 2014 were invited to answer a comprehensive questionnaire regarding cancer- and treatment-related late side effects after rectal cancer treatment. Bowel function was assessed using the Low Anterior Resection score and stoma function using the Colostomy Impact score. Female sexuality was measured by sexual activity, overall sexual dysfunction (the Rectal Cancer Female Sexuality score) and by different domains of sexual dysfunction (Sexual Vaginal Changes questionnaire). Results: Eight-hundred and thirteen female patients completed the questionnaire (response rate 49.2%). Major bowel dysfunction did not significantly increase the risk of sexual inactivity (OR 1.39, 95% CI 0.93–2.07) but clearly increased the risk of sexual dysfunction (OR 3.03, 95% CI 1.67–5.51). The most distinct problems were dyspareunia and inability to complete intercourse. On the contrary, poor stoma function increased the risk sexual inactivity (OR 2.26, 95% CI 1.16–4.40) but not the risk of sexual dysfunction (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.27–1.99). The most distinct problem was dissatisfaction with own physical appearance. Conclusions: Both bowel dysfunction and stoma dysfunction negatively, but differently, affect sexuality. After restorative surgery, bowel dysfunction was primarily associated with sexual dysfunction while poor stoma function after abdominoperineal excision was associated with sexual inactivity.

TidsskriftColorectal Disease
Sider (fra-til)894-905
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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