The Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer
Letter from the Chair
Thank you for being a part of our community of scientists, clinicians, activists, and patients who are interested in advancing the sexual health of women and girls with cancer!

A lot is happening in the field of sexual health for women with cancer, including the Network’s upcoming conference, which will be held in Durham, North Carolina on September 27-28. There are some exciting events and offerings in store, and for the first time, the Network will be offering a pre-conference CME session that is not to be missed!

The impact of cancer and its treatment on women’s sexual health is being discussed more openly in a variety of settings – from medical to the media. In this newsletter, we share a member’s reaction to a recent New York Times piece on the price of medications to treat women’s sexual dysfunction. One of the points made in this piece is that one reason why the price of these drugs continues to rise is that the topic of “dry vagina” is perceived as embarrassing by patients and clinicians, and therefore remains undiscussed. Unfortunately, the discomfort many women (and their clinicians) feel in discussing problems with sexual function may be serving as a barrier to women receiving the help they need to maintain sexual health.

This NYT piece highlights the importance of the work Network members are doing to advance the field of women’s sexual health in cancer and improve the care women receive in this area of their lives. We hope you will stay involved in the goings on of the Network and let us know if you have news to add to our future newsletters!

Jeanne Carter, PhD
Chair, Scientific Network
6th Conference of the Scientific Network

We are excited to announce that the 2018 Conference for the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer will he held on September 27-28, 2018 at Duke University within the Duke Cancer Institute. We are grateful to our Duke colleagues, Kelly Westbrook and Kevin Weinfurt, who have been coordinating these efforts. Keep an eye on the Network website’s meeting page where additional information will be posted as it becomes available.
Join us for the 6th Conference of the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer, September 27-28, 2018 at Duke University (Duke Cancer Institute) in Durham, NC.

Thank you to Kelly Westbrook, MD, Scientific Network Conference Planning Chair, who has been coordinating these efforts, and to the rest of the Conference Planning Committee for organizing this exciting event!

This year we are offering a Pre-Conference CME Program. This half-day program is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn from clinicians and researchers at the forefront of sexual health for women with cancer. Come learn about sexual problems of women with cancer, treatment impact on sexual health, solutions and treatments for sexual problems, sexual response and interventions, as well as about different models of sexual health programs. The pre-conference CME program, held on the morning of September 27, is geared towards physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and physical therapists who care for women with a history of cancer. However, anyone with an interest in improving the sexual health care of women with cancer is encouraged to attend.

Pre-Conference Program

In addition to this exciting new CME pre-conference program, the Network conference experience also includes:
  • Experts discussing the state of patient-reported outcomes in relation to assessing sexual function for women with cancer, vulvar and urogenital pain, and the process of care for hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
  • The latest research on sexual health for women with cancer presented in both oral and poster presentations.
  • Networking with colleagues at meals, breaks, and throughout the meeting.
  • The opportunity to join committees and link up with colleagues on projects.
Conference Program
Member Spotlight

Stacy Lindau, MD

Stacy Lindau, MD, is a gynecologist, Director of the Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine at the University of Chicago, and founding chair of the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer. In 2016, she was named a Fellow of the second class of the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Stacy is perhaps the only fellow in the Global Leadership Network whose science and practice focus on female sexual function. She is uniquely positioned to raise awareness and disseminate information to thought leaders across health and other disciplines about female sexual function and its relationship to the health, well-being and productivity of women. In June, she joined three other Health Innovators Fellows in a session at Aspen Institute’s Spotlight Health on topics in healthcare no one else is talking about. Her talk, using a 5 minute “Ignite” format created by Brady Forrest – 20 slides, 15 seconds each on auto-advance – enlightened participants to how the bulbocavernosus muscle works and its importance to female and male sexual function. The leadership training and self-study provided by the fellowship experience have been essential ingredients in the development of WomanLab, a web-based blog and social media platform where Stacy and her team at the University of Chicago are sharing the patient-facing content they have developed for PRISM and are publishing new content, co-created with patient advocates and other experts in the field.

Stacy’s efforts to raise awareness about female sexual function via the Health Innovators fellowship is just one example of the many ways Scientific Network members leverage our unique platforms and stages to accelerate knowledge about preservation and recovery of female sexual function in the context of cancer and other conditions.

Follow WomanLab on Twitter @WomanLab_ and Facebook @wearewomanlab and contribute as a guest blogger.

Stacy ( is happy to talk to those interested in learning more about Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship. Applicants must be younger than 50 years old at the time of matriculation and require a nominator.

Send us your story for the next newsletter at

Spotlight on Research
Sharon Bober, PhD, a licensed psychologist and Director of the Sexual Health Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and member of the Board of the Network, recently published results of a trial of a brief psychoeducational intervention to assist women who have undergone treatment for ovarian cancer with managing sexual dysfunction. Despite the intervention’s brevity (it consisted of a single half-day group training including sexual health education, rehabilitation, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy skills training and one follow-up booster phone call), significant improvements as a result of this intervention were found for women’s sexual function and psychological distress. These promising findings suggest that a brief group intervention can offer powerful effects for women suffering consequences of ovarian cancer treatments on their sexual lives.
In the News
Our members were interested in a piece recently printed in the New York Times about the high costs of medications to treat women’s sexual dysfunctions, and how ongoing taboos and discomfort in discussing women’s sexuality may be partly to blame for a lack of advocacy on this front.

Network member Dana Haseotes, a clinical social worker and certified sex therapist, commented that this piece “is a good barometer of how important our work is as we all work to normalize how common sexual health concerns are for women, and continue to do research and create programs that give women a forum for discussing their concerns and getting medical advice (and sex therapy) to help them return to healthy and pleasurable sexual activity.”

The New York Times
piece can be found HERE.

How do you respond to the questions below? Share your response to the article and the questions below with us on Twitter @cancersexnet.
  • Do you have thoughts on the high costs of medications for treating women’s sexual dysfunctions?
  • Does this issue affect your patients? If so, how do you deal with it your practice?
  • What advice do you have for women who want help for sexual dysfunctions, including painful intercourse, but who can’t pay for these medications?
  • How do you help women feel comfortable talking about dry vagina and other sexual health topics in your practice?
Get involved!
We want to continue to grow the Network and we need your help to do it! The Scientific Network has formalized its structure and has opportunities for members to get involved with its newly formed committees, as well as writing groups.
  • Membership Committee (3 openings). Chaired by Mary Lynn, the Membership Committee works to increase membership through the development and implementation of a recruitment plan and associated promotions/activities; development and implementation of a retention plan to retain current members; and regular review and evaluation of member benefits.

  • Website Committee (4 openings). Chaired by Kathryn Flynn, the Website Committee regularly reviews the website to ensure all content is current; reviews and approves requests to add content to the website; and provides suggestions for enhancements to the website.

  • Newsletter Committee (4 openings). Chaired by Jenny Reese, the Newsletter Committee is responsible for defining topics and producing the Network Newsletter (the Executive Office handles the formatting and electronic distribution).

  • Social Media Committee (3 openings). Chaired by Sharon Bober, the Social Media Committee is responsible for building and maintaining a social media presence for the Network, including regularly providing posts/content relevant to the field.

  • Writing Groups. Writing groups are formed by interested members to focus on a major research topic that needs further clarification in regard to women and cancer.
If you are interested in any of the above, please submit a statement of interest to the Network Executive Office at
Welcome New Members!
  • Melanie Altas, MD, MSc, FRCSC
    New Westminster, BC, Canada (BC Centre for Vulvar Health)
  • Karlene Cunningham, PhD
    Greenville, NC (Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University)
  • Johanna D’Addario, PA-C
    New Haven, CT (Yale New Haven Health)
  • Rita Deimler, ANP-BC, MSN
    Hurdle Mills, NC (Duke University)
  • Heidi Donovan, PhD, RN
    Pittsburgh, PA (University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing)
  • Leilani Douglas, BA
    Chicago, IL (University of Chicago)
  • Julia Drizin, MA
    Corvallis, OR (Oregon State University)
  • Jennifer Fox, MSN, FNP-C, AOCNP
    Greenville, SC (Greenville Health System Cancer Institute Center for Integrative Oncology and Survivorship)
  • Mary Hughes, BS, MS
    Houston, TX (UT MD Anderson Cancer Center)
  • Ann Jackson, PT, DPT, MPH
    Flossmoor, IL (Legacy Healthcare Solutions)
  • Emily Jacobs, MD
    Iowa City, IA (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics)
  • Alyse Kelly-Jones, MD
    Charlotte, NC (Mintview Women’s Care)
  • Pebble Kranz, MD, FECSM
    Rochester, NY (Rochester Center for Sexual Wellness, University of Rochester Medical Center)
  • Timothy Leach, MD
    Alamo, CA (John Muir Health)
  • Kirsten Malvey, NP
    Minneapolis, MN (MHealth, Gynecologic Oncology)
  • Courtney Moyer, PA-C
    Fremont, OH (ProMedica Physicians Group)
  • Gwendolyn Quinn, PhD
    New York, NY (New York University)
  • Sara Rosenquist, PhD, ABPP
    Washington, DC
  • Sarah Shaffer, DO
    Iowa City, IA (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics)
  • Cheryl Smith, MSW
    Fargo, ND (Sanford Health Roger Maris Cancer Center)
  • Natalie Walkup, PA
    Toledo, OH (ProMedica)
  • Elsa Wise, PA-C
    Houston, TX (UT MD Anderson Cancer Center)
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