Sexuality and breast cancer: a study by KU Leuven

About half of patients with breast cancer indicate that they experience sexual problems after this diagnosis. This can manifest itself as pain during intercourse due to a dry vagina, a decreased libido or a changed body image after surgery. However, it is often a combination of circumstances that causes problems with sexuality and intimacy. This change in sexuality can occur during different phases of breast cancer treatment (breast surgery, chemotherapy, antihormonal therapy, ovarian suppression, etc.) or afterwards. Also the side effects of the therapy can worsen the sexual complaints.

This research aims to provide more clarity about sexuality and intimacy in breast cancer patients in various ways:

1. We want to identify what actually changes in sexuality and intimacy in breast cancer patients. 
- Through psychosocial research, we want to learn from patients what sexual problems there are and when they start.
- By examining the vaginal changes in different stages of breast cancer treatment, we want to evaluate the changes in moisture, elasticity and flora of the vagina.

2. Based on the data from the first part of the study, we want to search for solutions and treatments for sexual complaints that are oncologically safe for breast cancer patients.

3. By conducting this study nationally, we want to raise awareness in our country about sexuality and intimacy in the different stages of breast cancer treatment.