Local anaesthetic may improve sex lives of breast cancer survivors

New York, July 28 (IANS) Application of liquid lidocaine, a common local anaesthetic, may significantly improve sexual function of breast cancer survivors who experience pain during sexual intercourse, new research has found.

Breast cancer survivors are especially vulnerable to dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse, because their treatment is focused on eradicating the sex hormone estrogen.

This increases the severity of the typical menopausal symptom of pain with sex.

“This noninvasive treatment will offer distinct help in alleviating the physical — and quite frankly the emotional — pain associated with sexual intercourse, making sexual function more enjoyable and fulfilling for them and their partner,” said the study’s lead author Martha Goetsch, adjunct assistant professor Oregon Health & Science University in the US.

It is estimated that anywhere from 70 to 100 percent of breast cancer survivors experience some sort of sexual dysfunction.

The researchers asked 46 estrogen-deficient breast cancer survivors with severe dyspareunia to apply one of two treatments they could not identify during the blinded phase.

They got either saline, a sterile solution, or four percent liquid lidocaine and applied their liquid to the vulvar vestibule for three minutes before sexual intercourse. They also received a silicone lubricant.

Whereas initially the group had an average pain score of 8 on a scale of one to ten, results showed that those who used lidocaine and a silicone-based lubricant had a much lower pain level, on on scale of one to ten, compared with those who used saline and silicone lubricant, 5.3 on a scale of one to ten.

No partner reported numbness as a result of using lidocaine, the study said.

The research was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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