Sexual health and rehabilitation after ovarian suppression treatment (SHARE-OS): a clinical intervention for young breast cancer survivors

  • Sharon L. BoberEmail author
  • E. Fine
  • C. J. Recklitis



Each year, thousands of young breast cancer (BC) patients confront the difficult decision to medically suppress ovarian function and undergo abrupt, premature menopause to reduce risk of cancer recurrence. Unlike natural menopause, young women undergoing ovarian suppression (OS) face severe and disruptive side effects. Profound sexual dysfunction is one of the most prevalent, distressing side effects of OS treatment. Unmanaged sexual dysfunction is also a primary predictor of non-adherence to this potentially life-saving treatment. We developed and tested a brief, psychosexual intervention targeted to manage sexual dysfunction and psychological distress after OS in young BC survivors.


Twenty young BC survivors with sexual dysfunction received a single 4-h group intervention that included sexual health rehabilitation, body awareness exercises, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) skills followed by a single tailored booster telephone call 1-month later. Assessment of female sexual function and psychological distress was completed at baseline and 2 months post-intervention.


Analyses examined changes pre- to post-intervention. Female sexual health improved significantly from baseline to follow-up (n = 19, p < 0.02). Anxiety was also significantly improved at the 2-month (p < 0.000) timepoint, compared with baseline 1. Moderate-to-large effect sizes were observed regarding changes in sexual function and psychological distress.


Significant improvements in sexual functioning and psychological distress were observed 2 months post-intervention.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

These results demonstrate that delivery of a targeted intervention in brief, low-intensity group setting is a promising model for reducing distressing sexual dysfunction in young BC survivors on OS treatment.


Sexual health Breast cancer Sexual rehabilitation 


Compliance with ethical standards

The project received IRB approval.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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