Sex, Cancer and Other Diseases

[Dr. Lindau] started asking about my sex life. It just floored me that I wasn’t alone; that other cancer survivors were going through the same thing. She said she would help me. It changed my life.”

Patient of Dr. Lindau, Chicago Health (September 4, 2018)

Sex, Cancer and Other Diseases

Successful integration of sexuality measures with high cooperation rates into large-scale, population-based survey research with older adults paved the path for adoption of this domain in important clinical studies of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Lindau has led development of sexuality modules, working in collaboration with cardiovascular researchers. In large multisite studies of patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), we find a majority of people were sexually active in the year prior to the AMI, value their sexual function, and wish to resume sexual activity after AMI. We also find, contrary to popular belief, that sexual activity early after AMI does not increase the risk of 1-year mortality. Physician counseling about resuming sex after AMI is repeatedly found to be a significant predictor of sexual outcomes after AMI and patients across age groups widely agree that the physician should provide such counsel. Findings are very similar among clinical cancer cohorts; in an NCI-funded study of gynecologic cancer survivors, physician counseling about sex after cancer was the single strongest predictor of sexual function as long as two decades after diagnosis.

This research informs practice guidelines in the cardiovascular and cancer fields and led to the creation of the UChicago Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine (est. 2008) and the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer (est. 2010).

Project News

Sex After Cancer

Read about Chicago Health‘s coverage on Lindau Lab helping female survivors regain their sexual satisfaction and confidence.


Dr. Lindau was the lead external expert contributor to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology Practice Bulletin (#213) on Female Sexual Dysfunction (2019).