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The Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer
Dear friends and colleagues,

It is with gratitude and enthusiasm that I am writing to you this June of 2021. Since our last edition of the Network Newsletter, we have continued to persevere in the face of the pandemic. What a time we have all endured – it almost feels a bit surreal to both process the last 15 months while simultaneously allowing oneself to believe that the worst is behind us.

During this incredibly stressful and unpredictable time, I am thrilled that our Network has been able to continue to promote both fruitful networking and meaningful scientific endeavors. Under the skilled leadership of Dr. Jennifer Reese and Dr. Shari Damast, and with support from a wonderful Scientific Committee, we delivered a fantastic online annual scientific meeting. The breadth and depth of content provided by both the speakers and the poster presentations was superb, and over 95% of our evaluation respondents rated the meeting as outstanding. Below you will find highlights from the session, as well as how current members can access the content for free at any time on our website.

Looking ahead, I know my sense of what comes next is a work in progress… I am still seeing patients virtually and working from home most days. But I also know that the past 15 months have clarified more than ever the need to stay connected with others and engaged with meaningful and productive work. That said, I want to acknowledge the dedication and unswerving efforts made by you, our members, to help the Scientific Network move our endeavors front and center into the digital age. I’m grateful to each of you for your continued support and involvement and hope that we can all take some time this summer to relax, reset and recharge.

All my best,

Sharon Bober, PhD
Virtual Scientific Session of the Scientific Network
April 9, 2021
Despite the challenges of the last year, our first Virtual Scientific Session received rave reviews and satisfied our desire for reconnection. The online format permitted a global reach, including participants from the UK, Canada, China, and the Netherlands! Attendees were treated to outstanding clinical updates, cutting edge research, and survivor stories that fueled our passion for women’s sexual health and cancer. Here are a few key highlights from the conference:
  • Dr. Areej El-Jawahri, MD, shared her work with sexual health interventions and technology in transplant patients.

Areej El-Jawahri presenting at the 2021 Virtual Scientific Session
  • Dr. Kathryn Flynn and Dr. Jeanne Carter shared perspectives on measurement of sexual health for research and clinical practice.
  • Selected abstract presentations included an update on the Bionic Breast Project, mindfulness-based sexual health intervention, and sexual health communication mLearning for clinicians.
Feedback from attendees about the session included:
  • “Loved it- so engaging and interesting! Can't wait to join The Network and continue to learn!”
  • “Thank you for an excellent program and all the wonderful speakers that brought their expertise to the table. A special thank you to Marloe Esch for sharing her intimate story!!! Bravo to the organizers! Well done!!!”

Marloe Esch sharing her survivor story
  • “High quality clinicians and researchers sharing their information with the group. Planning to use and expand on information I learned today.”
  • “This was a stellar meeting. I like the length of it as well as the length of the talks. Thanks to the organizers, moderators and speakers for consistently excellent work.”
  • “Fantastic session!!! Learned so much. Joined The Network.”
Scientific Network members may access past conference presentations in the Members-Only section of the website. Not yet a member? Join today!
Networking with the Network
We regularly hear that one of the best aspects of the Network is just that – networking! This past May we offered our second virtual Networking with the Network event, bringing together like-minded folks who were looking to learn and connect about various topics. This time, two breakout sessions focused on continuing the conversations started at our April Scientific Session with innovative technology-based approaches to addressing women’s sexual health after a cancer diagnosis, and current issues and updates in measurement of women’s sexual functioning. A third group discussed ideas for leveraging collaboration with patient advocates and community partners to accelerate research and practice. If you missed this opportunity, keep your eyes peeled for future networking sessions!
Member Recognition
Scientific Network members Sharon Bober, Jennifer Barsky Reese, and Lesile Schover, along with other colleagues (Louise Baca Eller, Christian Nelson, Beth Gardini Dixon), presented a pre-conference workshop entitled “Helping Patients Cope with Cancer-Related Sexual Problems: A Basic Toolkit” at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society 2021 Virtual Annual Conference in March.
News You Can Use
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Resources*
Hunting for good information to provide patients on pelvic floor physical therapy or a pelvic floor physical therapist in your community? A pelvic floor physical therapist can be a valuable part of a woman’s sexual health care team. Below are some resources that Network members have found helpful:
  • The American Physical Therapy Association provider listing can help you identify a physical therapist in your area with specialization in pelvic health or in sexual dysfunction.
  • offers a list of questions for patients to ask pelvic floor physical therapists to assess their preparedness to handle sexual functioning concerns.
  • Patients may be reluctant to pursue physical therapy because they don’t know what to expect. has three very short videos that explain pelvic floor physical therapy.
*The Scientific Network does not endorse nor have any influence over the content of any of the resources listed above. They are included here for informational purposes only.
25th Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS)
September 9-12, 2021
Cape Town, South Africa

International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
26TH Biennial Conference on Diseases of the Vulva & Vagina
September 23-25, 202

Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA)
22nd Annual Fall Scientific Meeting
October 21-24, 2021
Scottsdale, AZ

International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS)
24th Annual Scientific Meeting on Pelvic Pain
October 21-24, 2021
Baltimore, MD

American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)
63rd Annual Meeting
October 24-27, 2021
Chicago, IL

International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM)
World Meeting on Sexual Medicine
November 19-21, 2021

P.S. Check out the (free!) On-Demand Webinars from ISSM on a wide variety of topics, including one on Oncosexology moderated by the Network’s own Sharon Bober, PhD.

Seventeen (17) posters from the US and abroad were accepted for the Virtual Scientific Session this past April. Conference registrants were emailed a PDF of all posters on April 8, 2021, and members can access the narrated videos by logging in to the Network website and navigating to the Conference Presentations section. Consistent with the Network’s emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion, there were three posters focused on the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Paige Lake (Moffitt Cancer Center) and colleagues presented their developmental work, “Examining Clinician Knowledge and Confidence in Reproductive Health Needs Among Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Patients with Cancer.”
  • Dr. Rebecca Block (OCHIN and New York University) and colleagues presented their work, “LOVE-ECHO: LGBTQIA Sexual Health Education for Allied Health Professionals.” LOVE-ECHO is a specialty module of clinician oncofertility and sexual health education for AYA survivors.
  • Charlie Fuller (University of Chicago) and colleagues reported on “Breast Sensory Function in Transmasculine People: An Exploratory Analysis.” Large qualitative differences in response patterns for breast satisfaction, pleasure, and importance between transmasculine and cisgender women respondents point to potential need for future study.

Jessie Li, BS

The Network annually awards the Stacy Tessler Lindau Trainee Research Award to the highest scoring abstract presented by a trainee. This year’s recipient is Jessie Li, BS, Yale School of Medicine, for her abstract titled, Multidisciplinary Management of Women’s Sexual and Menopausal Symptoms after Pelvic Radiotherapy. Read below to learn more about Jessie and her interests!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Jessie Li, and I am currently a 4th year medical student at Yale School of Medicine. I am originally from Lexington, Kentucky and attended Yale College for my undergraduate degree in molecular biology. I am interested in the field of obstetrics and gynecology and am hoping to apply into OB/GYN residency this fall.

Where do you work and what is the focus of your research and/or clinical practice?
As a medical student, I have many research interests that center primarily on gynecologic oncology. In particular, I am interested in how quality of life can be improved in cancer survivorship, especially with regards to sexual health. At the Scientific Session this year, I presented our work on the benefits of a multidisciplinary sexual health clinic for cancer survivors after pelvic radiotherapy. Additionally, I am very interested in how novel biomarkers can be used to dictate prognostication and treatment paradigms, such as mismatch repair deficiency and ARID1A deficiency.

How have you benefited from your experience with the Network?
I had a wonderful time at the Scientific Session with the Network this year. I learned so much through the fascinating presentations and thoroughly enjoyed connecting with individuals across many different disciplines. I was extremely grateful and honored to have received the Stacey Tessler Lindau Trainee Research Award and can only hope to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Lindau and of the other colleagues involved in the Network.

What do you find meaningful and/or how have you benefited from Network membership?
I am continually struck by the camaraderie and shared passion among the Network members. I come away feeling energized and empowered from every Network event that I attend. There is something exceptionally special about being a part of a multidisciplinary group such as this, where professionals from different backgrounds bring their unique expertise to address a shared cause. I have already greatly benefited from the generosity of Network members sharing their expertise and time, and I am hopeful for many productive and uplifting collaborations to come.

What is an interesting fact about you, or what is your favorite hobby?
My favorite hobby is definitely music! I am a classically trained pianist and violinist from an early age. During my undergraduate years, I was a first violinist in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, with whom I went on tour in Russia and also performed in Carnegie Hall. In my spare time, I continue to play piano and violin and also dabble with guitar and ukulele.

One of the benefits of membership in the Scientific Network is post-meeting access to content, including the full recording of this year’s Virtual Scientific Session and the narrated video posters. Simply log in to the Network website (, navigate to the Conference Presentations section, and view!
Ayesha Ali, MD, Philadelphia, PA (Thomas Jefferson University Hospital)
Sarah Arthur Durham, SC (Duke University)
Cynthia Bergman, MD, Philadelphia, PA (Fox Chase Cancer Center)
Sharon Bingham, United Kingdom (Ulster University)
Christine Chin, MD, New York, NY (Columbia University Medical Center, Radiation Oncology)
Hazel Ditan-O'Brien, RN, BSN, OCN, Dover, NH, (Seacoast Cancer Center)
Lily Gutnik, MD, MPH, Durham, NC (Duke University Health Care)
MeLanie Modjoros, MD, Falls Church, VA (Sexual Health Consultants)
Ellie Proussaloglou, MD, Providence, RI (Women & Infants Hospital)
Cynthia Schwartz, Washington, DC (Cancer Support Community & Research Training Institute)
Suneela Vegunta, MD, Scottsdale, AZ (Mayo Clinic)
Kate White, PhD, Sydney, Australia (University of Sydney)
Lisa Wolf, PA-C, Saratoga Springs, NY (Saratoga Hospital Center for Breast Care)
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