Qualitative exploration of sexual life among breast cancer survivors at reproductive age.


Maleki M(1), Mardani A(2), Ghafourifard M(3), Vaismoradi M(4).
Author information:
(1)Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahroud University of Medical Sciences, Shahroud, Iran.
(2)Nursing Care Research Center, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. [Email]
(3)Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.
(4)Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences, Nord University, Bodø, Norway.


BACKGROUND: Our understanding of the experiences of women at reproductive age regarding sexual life and issues they may face after starting the treatment of breast cancer is limited. Therefore, this qualitative study aimed to explore sexual life and its related issues among breast cancer survivors at reproductive age in Iran. METHODS: A qualitative research was conducted. Participants were 21 breast cancer survivors who were under 51 years of age that were chosen using purposeful sampling. In-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out for data collection and the content analysis method was used for data analysis. RESULTS: The data analysis led to the development of main theme of 'unfulfilled sexual life'. Also, four subthemes were: 'undesirable sexual function', 'context-based beliefs', 'unmet information and supportive needs', and 'emotional crisis'. CONCLUSIONS: Our research findings inform healthcare providers about the experiences of breast cancer survivors and related changes in their sexual and marriage life at reproductive age. Nurses and other healthcare providers in the multidisciplinary team should proactively identify health-related problems and design appropriate caring strategies to mitigate sexual and marriage issues among breast cancer survivors. Also, the establishment of sexual health counseling units for breast cancer survivors can help this vulnerable group of women with the improvement of their long-term sexual satisfaction.