Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sexual Function Affected By Stem Cell Transplant, According To Long-term Study

Date:
September 21, 2007
Source:
American Society of Hematology
Summary:
A long-term study found that a type of stem cell transplant used for patients with life-threatening diseases results in decreased sexual function and activity for recipients. Further, males are likely to recover from these changes over time, while the sexuality of female patients remains compromised. In addition, neither male nor female long-term cancer survivors regained levels of sexual activity and function equal to those of their peers who have not had cancer.

A long-term study found that a type of stem cell transplant used for patients with life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia and lymphoma, results in decreased sexual function and activity for recipients.

Related Articles


Further, males are likely to recover from these changes over time, while the sexuality of female patients remains compromised. In addition, neither male nor female long-term cancer survivors regained levels of sexual activity and function equal to those of their peers who have not had cancer, according to a Blood First Edition Paper pre-published online September 18.

"Survival without a sex life should not be what cancer survivors settle for or what health-care professionals consider a successful outcome of cancer treatment," stated lead study author, Karen Syrjala, PhD, co-director of the Survivorship Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Sexual dysfunction in survivors of cancer needs to become a priority for research funding and a routine topic of discussion between doctors and their patients after cancer treatment."

In an allogeneic hematopoeitic stem cell transplantation, patients with diseases of the blood, bone marrow, or certain types of cancers receive an infusion of new stem cells from a sibling or tissue-matched unrelated donor to replace the damaged or destroyed cells in their bone marrow needed for the production of blood cells. Before the transplant, high-dose chemotherapy is administered to kill residual cancer cells and to suppress the immune system so that the patient's body will not reject the new tissue.

The results of questionnaires on sexual function were reported for 161 patients scheduled to receive this procedure at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The patients ranged in age from 22-64 years with an average age of 41 and a nearly even split by gender.

Before the transplant, study participants completed an assessment of their sexual health at the clinic, and, after the procedure, surveys were mailed to the patients to complete at the six-month interval and after one, two, three, and five years. The response rate to the questionnaire averaged 84 percent with all participants completing one or more surveys during the five-year period.

The surveys included 37 questions in the areas of interest, desire, arousal, orgasm, satisfaction, activity, relationship, masturbation, and sexual problems. The male and female versions had the same content except for variations in the problems section according to sex. In addition, those who were not sexually active were provided with a list of possible reasons and asked to mark as many as applied.

At five years, the assessments were compared against a control group consisting of siblings or friends of the study patients that were within five years of the participant's age and who were of the same gender, ethnicity, race, and educational background. If a local match was not available, the researchers recruited volunteers from the community that fit the criteria.

At the six-month mark, both genders had decreased sexual activity, but, by one year, sexual activity for the majority of the men (74 percent) had recovered to the levels seen at the beginning of the study. For women, recovery of sexual activity took longer, with just over half (55 percent) returning to sexual activity after two years. Though sexual activity was restored for these patients, for those who were sexually active at the five-year mark, 46 percent of the men and 80 percent of the women reported problems that disrupted sexual function.

According to the researchers, sexual dysfunction in transplant patients is likely caused by systemic therapies, such as total body irradiation and chemotherapy drugs known as alkylating agents, which are known to permanently damage endocrine glands that play a critical role in the development and regulation of the reproductive system.

In addition, chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a common complication of transplantation experienced by 65 percent of the patients in this study, may cause shrinkage of the vaginal tissues and changes to the vaginal lining that can contribute to sexual dysfunction in women. For males, testosterone levels and the cavernosal arteries of the penis are affected, eroding libido and erectile function.

Lack of interest or libido explained sexual inactivity in part for nearly 20 percent of female survivors at both six months and five years, suggesting that this problem did not improve over time. In contrast, for males, lack of interest or libido as a reason for inactivity declined from 14 percent to 6 percent between six months and five years.

At the five-year mark, the rates of sexual activity and sexual function for both male and female patients were below those of the control group, suggesting that they did not fully recover from the effects of the cancer itself or cancer treatments. Further studies are needed to determine if hormone treatments for both sexes or other therapies will help these patients achieve the same sexual function and activity as their peers.

The researchers also recommend that patients undergoing stem cell transplantation be made aware of potential changes in their sexuality and given resources to address these needs to help improve long-term quality of life.

Men may benefit from reassurance that erectile function and sexual desire should improve by one to two years after treatment, but that methods such as testosterone replacement, erectile-function medications, and other adaptive strategies can be considered if problems continue. For women, methods that focus on communication with their partners about changes in sensation, strategies for enhancing libido, and use of vaginal lubricants, dilators, or vibrators to assist with adapting to genital changes may help to maintain sexual responsiveness.

Blood is the official journal of the American Society of Hematology.

This work was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Hematology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society of Hematology. "Sexual Function Affected By Stem Cell Transplant, According To Long-term Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070918165357.htm>.
American Society of Hematology. (2007, September 21). Sexual Function Affected By Stem Cell Transplant, According To Long-term Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070918165357.htm
American Society of Hematology. "Sexual Function Affected By Stem Cell Transplant, According To Long-term Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070918165357.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins