The Gynae Narratives (GN) project has demonstrated the need to close the gap in service provision that has left individuals with gynaecological cancers without aspects of supportive care surrounding their sexual wellbeing. For gynaecological cancer patients the side effects caused by radiotherapy are far broader and more complex than the physical early and late effects often experienced and freely discussed by health professionals (1). Sexual wellbeing is increasingly being identified as a need that requires recognised space in the holistic care of the individual (1)(2). In conjunction with the Society of Radiographers and the social justice consultancy Me & Her, who have a wide-ranging experience in creating and running sexual well-being workshops, the GN team are developing resources to support Therapeutic Radiographers (TR) in competently addressing the sexual wellbeing needs of the gynaecological cancer patient.
What is meant by sexual wellbeing
Sexual wellbeing is a term increasingly used independently to that of sexual health; it is important to understand the differences implied. Sexual health is a commonly used descriptor developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) (3) to primarily understand the absence of disease (e.g.,4). The broad sexual health umbrella does identify needs such as individual well-being, safety and sexual diversity, but with no clear distinctions provided for sexual experience. The term of sexual wellbeing is yet to have a fully agreed definition or measure. Sexual wellbeing is interlinked with sexual health; however, the concept as a separate term provides improved focus to consider the individual as a sexual being with sexual self-esteem and experiences, irrespective of being sexually active (5). Mitchell et al (2021) have created a seven-domain model of sexual wellbeing to include comfort with sexuality, self-determination in one’s sex life and sexual resilience (2) which can be used to better understand the complexities involved when considering sexual wellbeing as distinct from sexual health.
- Rizzuto, I et al (2021): Sexual and Psychosexual Consequences of Treatment for Gynaecological Cancers. Clinical Oncology
- Mitchell, K et al (2021): What is sexual wellbeing and why does it matter for public health? Lancet Public Health.
- Lorimer, K et al (2019): A rapid review of sexual wellbeing definitions and measures: should we now include sexual wellbeing freedom? Journal of Sex Research.
Download a copy of the participant information sheet: Participant Information Sheet – Sexual Pleasure PDF