Breast cancer (BC) may affect three main domains of women’s sexuality: sexual identity, sexual function and sexual relationship. Age, lymphedema, side-effects of surgery, radio-, chemo- and hormonotherapy, pregnancy-related problems, infertility, iatrogenic premature menopause, with its cohort of symptoms secondary to the chronic loss of oestrogens on the brain, on the sensory organs, on the pathophysiology of sexual response and on the function of the pelvic floor, may all affect sexuality after breast cancer.
Unfortunately, biological factors, secondary to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, are usually understudied with respect to the psychosocial ones. Physicians should improve their skill in understanding and listening to sexual concerns and in addressing the basic biological issues that BC raises for female sexual identity.
This paper will focus on the biological factors that are of main interest for the daily practice of health care providers.