Sexual Dysfunction Common With Aromatase Inhibitors

Unsatisfactory sex life, low sexual interest for about half of postmenopausal breast cancer patients

MONDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Sexual dysfunction is common among postmenopausal women treated with aromatase inhibitors after breast cancer, according to a study published online Sept. 17 in Menopause.

Juliane Baumgart, M.D., Ph.D., from Örebro University in Sweden, and colleagues assessed sexual function through a standardized questionnaire in postmenopausal breast cancer patients on adjuvant endocrine treatment and in age-matched controls with and without estrogen treatment.

The researchers found that, of aromatase inhibitor-treated breast cancer patients, 42.4 percent were dissatisfied with their sex life and 50.0 percent reported low sexual interest, which was significantly more common than for tamoxifen-treated patients and controls. Aromatase inhibitor-treated patients reported insufficient lubrication (73.9 percent) and dyspareunia (56.5 percent). These findings were significantly more common in aromatase inhibitor-treated patients than controls, regardless of hormonal use. There was significantly more dyspareunia (31.3 percent) reported among tamoxifen-treated patients, but they resembled controls in all other findings.

"Our findings suggest that sexual dysfunction in aromatase inhibitor-treated women is a greatly underestimated problem," the authors write. "The underlying biological mechanisms and the impact of these symptoms on quality of life need to be studied more intensively to optimize breast cancer therapy."

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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