What Women Want: Radical Cystectomy and Perioperative Sexual Function Educational Needs

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the extent and adequacy of pre-operative sexual function (SF) counseling in females undergoing radical cystectomy (RC) and develop educational material to improve identified deficits. METHODS: A 10-question survey was electronically delivered to all females who underwent RC at a single institution between 2015 and 2020. 23 of 145 patients responded (15.9%). In addition, women on the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) patient discussion board were also queried. The primary outcome was the development of a patient educational handout based on patient perception of pre-operative SF counseling and self-reported changes in post-operative SF. RESULTS: 22 women, 84% of whom were sexually active, met the inclusion criteria. More than half (12/22, 54.5%) reported receiving no pre-operative counseling regarding possible SF changes while another 27.3% (6/22) received some counseling but desired more. Most women rated vaginal preservation as moderate to very important (17/22, 77.3%) and nearly all women noted at least one change in SF, most commonly dyspareunia (13/22, 59.1%). Most also desired more information regarding female sexual health. Separately, the BCAN discussion board was queried regarding patient preference for modality of pre-operative counseling. 77.8% (14/18) preferred a discussion with provider and 13/18 (72.2%) also wanted a written handout. CONCLUSIONS: Sexual dysfunction is prevalent following RC in women and many desire more pre-operative counseling, regardless of disease stage or receipt of chemotherapy. These findings supported our development of interventions to improve pre-operative education as well as strategies to address post-operative SF changes, such as dyspareunia.

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