Financial support: The study was funded by a Project Grant from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (ID POP 106306), United States, which supported Sherin Jarvis and Kelly Mok. Ilona Juraskova was supported by a Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Development Fellowship. Bettina Meiser was supported by a Career Development Award from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (ID 350989) and a Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellowship.
The Acceptability, Feasibility, and Efficacy (Phase I/II Study) of the OVERcome (Olive Oil, Vaginal Exercise, and MoisturizeR) Intervention to Improve Dyspareunia and Alleviate Sexual Problems in Women with Breast Cancer
Article first published online: 1 MAY 2013
© 2013 International Society for Sexual Medicine
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Volume 10, Issue 10, pages 2549–2558, October 2013
How to Cite
Juraskova, I., Jarvis, S., Mok, K., Peate, M., Meiser, B., Cheah, B. C., Mireskandari, S. and Friedlander, M. (2013), The Acceptability, Feasibility, and Efficacy (Phase I/II Study) of the OVERcome (Olive Oil, Vaginal Exercise, and MoisturizeR) Intervention to Improve Dyspareunia and Alleviate Sexual Problems in Women with Breast Cancer. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10: 2549–2558. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12156
- Issue published online: 7 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 1 MAY 2013
- Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Grant Number: ID POP 106306
- Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Development Fellowship
- National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Grant Number: ID 350989
- Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellowship
- Sexual Functioning;
- Vaginal Dryness;
- Breast Cancer;
- Pelvic Floor Muscle Relaxation Exercises;
- Vaginal Lubricant/Moisturizer
Almost half of breast cancer survivors experience chronic sexual problems. Despite the negative effects of dyspareunia on physical and overall quality of life, sexual dysfunction remains underreported and undertreated in clinical practice. This is likely due to the paucity of evidence-based interventions to improve sexual functioning.
The study aims to prospectively evaluate the acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy of a novel intervention (Olive Oil, Vaginal Exercise, and MoisturizeR [OVERcome]) to improve sexual problems following breast cancer treatment.
Main Outcome Measures
Dyspareunia, sexual functioning, quality of life, distress, and pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) functioning were evaluated.
Twenty-five women with dyspareunia were instructed to perform pelvic floor muscle (PFM) relaxation exercises twice/day to prevent/manage PFM overactivity, apply a polycarbophil-based vaginal moisturizer three times/week to alleviate vaginal dryness, use olive oil as a lubricant during intercourse, and complete a weekly compliance diary. PFM relaxation training was administered by a physiotherapist at weeks 0 and 4, with follow-up at weeks 12 and 26. At each visit, women completed validated self-report questionnaires and the physiotherapist recorded objective measures of PFM functioning.
OVERcome resulted in significant improvements in dyspareunia, sexual function, and quality of life over time (all P < 0.001). PFM relaxation training was reported to be effective (P ≤ 0.001). Maximum benefits were observed at week 12. Most women rated PFM relaxation exercises (92%), vaginal moisturizer (88%), and olive oil (73%) as helpful, indicating that the intervention was acceptable. Unexpectedly, six cases (11%) of vaginal stenosis were noted during initial screening.
This novel intervention is acceptable to patients with demonstrated efficacy in improving dyspareunia and sexual function following breast cancer. Delivery of the OVERcome intervention appears feasible in a clinical setting, providing a potential treatment for this important clinical issue. The unexpected number of observed cases of stenosis further highlights the underreporting of sexual problems in this population, deserving further exploration. Juraskova I, Jarvis S, Mok K, Peate M, Meiser B, Cheah BC, Mireskandari S, and Friedlander M. The acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy (Phase I/II study) of the OVERcome (Olive oil, Vaginal Exercise, and moisturizeR) intervention to improve dyspareunia and alleviate sexual problems in women with breast cancer. J Sex Med 2013;10:2549–2558.