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Sexuality and Intimacy in Serious Illness and at the End of Life 

Sexuality and Intimacy in Serious Illness and at the End of Life
Chapter:
Sexuality and Intimacy in Serious Illness and at the End of Life
Author(s):

Heather Shaw

, and Joshua Fronk

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190862374.003.0025
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date: 25 August 2019

Intimate relationships and sexual expression are fundamental human experiences that are impacted by serious illness and the end of life. People will experience changes in the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of their relationships and expressions of their sexuality. While people wish to talk with their healthcare providers about changes in their intimate and sexual relationships, many barriers exist. Despite a lack of prospective studies to guide assessment of the sexual and intimate needs of people at the end of life, healthcare providers can and should strive for inclusivity by using the multidisciplinary team, asking open-ended questions, and assessing the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of their patients. While some physical symptoms can be palliated, the physical and emotional changes that accompany serious illness and the dying process can be normalized and supported by healthcare providers.

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