Radical cystectomy and women's sexual health - can we do better?

Megan Escott, LSU Health Science Center - New Orleans
Svetlana Avulova, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Kelly K. Bree, Albany Medical Center
Mary E. Westerman, LSU Health Science Center - New Orleans


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Female sexual function after radical cystectomy is a crucial, but historically overlooked component of bladder cancer survivorship. This review focuses on recent studies, which have investigated pelvic health and sexual function after radical cystectomy. We discuss modifiable factors, which may contribute to decreased sexual function after radical cystectomy and techniques, which may lead to improved outcomes. RECENT FINDINGS: Sexual function is important to women and there is a significant desire (and unmet need) for more perioperative counseling and discussion regarding sexual function changes and quality of life impacts. Sexual function may be altered due to a combination of hormonal changes from ovarian removal, anatomic changes from vaginal alteration, and sensation changes due to damage to the neurovascular bundle. Techniques to preserve these structures have been developed. SUMMARY: Sexual function is an important component of survivorship and increasing attention is being focused on this area. Long term studies with objective measures are needed for to compare various techniques and ensure oncologic safety. Ovarian preservation, anterior vaginal wall preservation, and vaginal estrogen replacement should be carefully considered for most patients.