Physiotherapy Help for Pain and Sexual Function After Gynaecological Cancer

help for painful sex after cancer

A recent study showed that pelvic physical therapy helps gynaecological cancer survivors who are experiencing dyspareunia (painful sex) even years after completing medical therapy.

This study (referenced below) followed 31 women, mean age 55.9yrs, a median of 38 months (i.e., more than 3yrs) since completing gynaecology cancer treatment.

At the end of therapy, 86% of the women said they were improved or very much improved in the following areas:

  • Pain intensity
  • Sexual function and distress
  • Body image concerns
  • Pain anxiety 
  • Painful intercourse
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Urinary and Vaginal symptoms

Importantly, the improvements were maintained at 12 months.

Pelvic Physiotherapy after gynaecological cancer is likely to involve:

  • Education about how persistent pain happens and how the cycle can be broken, learning about the relevant anatomy and physiology, vulvovaginal responses, and sexual response.
  • Pelvic Floor muscle training (using feedback to improve awareness, strength or relaxation)
  • Manual therapy (to release tension and improve flexibility- using manual techniques or devices such as wands or dilators)
  • A home exercise program

The following improvements in pelvic floor function were measured:

  • Decreased pelvic floor muscle tone 
  • Increased pelvic floor muscle flexibility
  • Increased passive force production of the pelvic floor muscles
  • Increased contractility of the pelvic floor muscles
  • Improved co-ordination and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles on contraction
  • Increased vaginal length
  • Decreased vaginal atrophy

Consult with a Pelvic Health Physio today

We don’t think it is good enough to be handed a set of vaginal dilators and left to work out what to do all by yourself. If you are having problems after treatment for gynaecological cancer, or if you are struggling with pain after any surgical or medical procedures ‘down there’, book in with one of our pelvic health physiotherapists and start your recovery today.


1. Cyr MP, Dumoulin c, Bessette P, Pina A, Gottlieb, WH, Lapointe-Milt K, Mayrand MH, Morin, MA. Prospective single-arm study evaluating the effects of a multimodal physical therapy intervention on psychosexual outcomes in women with dyspareunia after gynaecologic cancer J Sex Med 2021 18: 946-854

2. Cyr MP, Dumoulin c, Bessette P, Pina A, Gottlieb, WH, Lapointe-Milt K, Mayrand MH, Morin, MA. Changes in Pelvic Floor Morphometry and muscle function after multimodal physiotherapy for gynaecological cancer survivors suffering from dyspareunia: a prospective interventional study. Physiotherapy 114 (2022) 54-62

3. Improvements following multimodal pelvic floor physical therapy in gynecological cancer survivors suffering from pain during sexual intercourse: Results from a one-year follow-up mixed-method study. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0262844. eCollection 2022.

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