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Sexual dysfunction: discussing patient sexuality and intimacy in palliative care 

Sexual dysfunction: discussing patient sexuality and intimacy in palliative care
Chapter:
Sexual dysfunction: discussing patient sexuality and intimacy in palliative care
Author(s):

Amanda Hordern

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199656097.003.0088
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date: 07 May 2021

Experiencing a life-limiting illness has the potential to radically transform every aspect of a person’s life, including how they feel about themselves, their body, and their sense of self within intimate and sexual relationships. For many terminally ill people, intimate and sexual moments are a vital aspect of their life, providing a sense of connectedness and assisting the person to explore and find meaning to living, death, and dying. Few health professionals view patients in their care as sexual beings and if they do, they struggle to know what and how to raise the topic of sexuality and intimacy within their clinical roles. This chapter defines patient sexuality and intimacy in the context of palliative care, explores the impact of natural ageing and treatment for cancer and chronic illnesses, and provides an introduction to opening communication and providing practical strategies to support the patient through intimate and sexual changes.

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