Libido Unaffected by Endocrine Therapy in Breast Cancer

But chemotherapy-induced menopause reduces breast cancer patients' sexual desire

FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Sexual desire in patients with breast cancer is not affected by adjuvant endocrine therapy, but is significantly reduced in those women with chemotherapy- or gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist-induced menopause, according to a study published online March 2 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Robert Ochsenkühn, M.D., from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in Germany, and colleagues examined the effects of past chemotherapy and adjuvant endocrine therapy on sexual desire in premenopausal patients with breast cancer or benign breast disease. Sexual desire was assessed by the Sexual Interest and Desire Inventory-Female (SIDI-F) questionnaire in 35 women with breast cancer who received adjuvant endocrine therapy two to eight years after chemotherapy, and in 13 women with benign breast tumors who received adjuvant endocrine therapy two to five years after diagnosis.

The investigators found that both the breast cancer and benign breast disease group had similar mean SIDI-F scores with no statistical differences with respect to the actual endocrine therapy. The SIDI-F scores were significantly lower in breast cancer patients with menopause induced by chemotherapy or GnRH agonists, compared with breast cancer patients with menorrhea (30.7 versus 40.4). In patients with breast cancer, amenorrhea was correlated with significantly reduced levels of estradiol compared to menorrhea (24 pg/mL versus 91 pg/mL).

"Chemotherapy in young breast cancer patients does not significantly impair long term sexual desire as compared to patients with benign breast disease, unless permanent menopause is induced," the authors write.

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