Sexual health & wellbeing of cancer survivors

Caring for the Sexual Health and Wellbeing of Cancer Survivors and Partners

This anonymous survey is aiming to find out more about people’s experiences of health care for their sexual health and wellbeing following cancer and its treatment.

Cancer and its treatment can lead to sexual changes, which may lead to a worsening of people’s sexual health and wellbeing. Not everyone reports receiving help for their sexual problems from the hospital cancer team.  This anonymous survey is aiming to find out more about people’s experiences of health care for their sexual health and wellbeing following cancer and its treatment.

Sexual health is a state of physical, psychological and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. Wellbeing means feeling good and functioning well. Sexual health is also about the possibility of having pleasurable sexual experiences. Sexual experiences can involve various types of intimate activities such as holding hands, cuddling and kissing, touching and pleasing yourself sexually, having sex, or whatever gives you enjoyment. 

Sexual health and wellbeing matters even if you are not sexually active and is now thought to contribute to an overall feeling of personal wellbeing.

Some examples of sexual health changes that can happen following cancer and its treatment include:

  • Physical Changes: to the shape and function of the penis or vagina, to bodily sensations, or to levels of tiredness
  • Psychological Changes: to how masculine or feminine you feel, to your body image (what you think about your body), or to your sexual confidence
  • Interpersonal changes to your relationship with your partner

In the past, research from around the world has highlighted a number of factors that hinder the provision of care for the sexual health of cancer survivors and their intimate partners. As a result, researchers have created tools to help healthcare staff talk to their patients about sexual health and have also designed a variety of different treatments to help manage these problems.

Despite this, current research from around the world continues to report that cancer survivors are still telling us that they are not receiving help for their sexual concerns. This research is aiming to provide information which may help us further understand the factors that can help and hinder care for the sexual health of cancer survivors and their intimate partners. 

About the project

This project is being undertaken in collaboration with NIHR ARC Wessex, Fortuneswell Cancer Trust and Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

A questionnaire survey has been designed to find out more about cancer survivors’ and their intimate partners’ experiences of care for sexual health from the UK hospital cancer team.  This survey will also be exploring their thoughts and feelings about factors that may help or hinder receiving care for these difficulties.

The survey is open from 23 August 2022 at 08.00 hours until 30 September 2022 at midnight.  It is available via a secure, online platform - you can complete the survey below. 

Complete the survey  

If clicking on the link does not work then copy and paste the link into your browser: https://bournemouth.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/caring-for-the-sexual-health-and-wellbeing-of-cancer-survi-6 

Help and support 

The survey will be asking sensitive questions, which may make people feel emotional.  Questions in the survey may lead to thoughts that could result in both advantages and disadvantages for relationships.  Questions could also trigger memories in those who have experienced sexual violence or assault in the past. We have put together some help and support information for those participating in the study, which can be accessed below. 

Read the study help and support information (pdf, 163kb)

Project outcomes

This study will provide an up to date picture of the care received for sexual health in the UK, as reported by cancer survivors and their intimate partners.  It will also provide broad information on factors that can help or hinder receiving this type of care. The results of the study will be posted on this page towards the end of 2022.

The results of this study will be used to help design another study, which will take place at a local hospital.  This study will involve interviewing cancer survivors, their intimate partners and members of the hospital cancer team.