Cancer treatment can lead to a decrease in sexual function and fertility. Over the recent years, the survival rates for most cancer types have increased significantly, heightening the importance of sexuality and fertility after recovery. The effects of treatment on the patient’s sexuality and fertility are not always properly discussed in the consultation room, and many patients struggle to bring these topics up themselves. Avoiding this subject deprives patients of a healthy sex life after recovery, and this could lead to the loss of intimacy in a patient’s relationship, feelings of powerlessness and depression, or lifelong regret for patients who had wanted children.
For her thesis, Esmée Krouwel, urologist in training at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, investigated whether health care providers in oncology take the effects of the treatment on the sexual functions and fertility of their patients into consideration. Health care providers do feel a sense of responsibility to tackle these delicate topics, but in practice there appears to be some room for improvement. Co-promotor Melianthe Nicolai, urologist, holds special consultation hours in which she treats patients facing sexual problems after surviving cancer.
Esmée will defend her thesis on Thursday, May 12.