Supportive Care

Sexual Health: A Nursing Approach to Supporting the Needs of Young Adult Cancer Survivors

Marloe Esch

young adults, quality of life, survivorship, sexual health, oncology nursing
CJON 2021, 25(5), 501-506. DOI: 10.1188/21.CJON.501-506

Sexual health is an important aspect of survivorship for young adult (YA) cancer survivors, who frequently experience physical and psychosocial changes related to sexuality and intimacy during and after treatment for cancer. This article provides an overview of common sexual issues in this population, reviews the integral role that oncology nursing assessment and intervention can play in optimizing patients’ sexual well-being and quality of life, and describes specific strategies for incorporating the sexual health needs of YA cancer survivors into the nursing plan of care.


  • Young women and men with reproductive and nonreproductive malignancies commonly report sexual problems, have questions about sexuality after cancer treatment, and desire practical guidance in dealing with these concerns.
  • Oncology nurses should inquire about the sexual health needs of YA cancer survivors regularly throughout the treatment trajectory as a part of routine nursing assessment.
  • Education and counseling on contraception, safer sex practices, and sexual communication skills are important nursing interventions that can be used to promote sexual wellness and healthy decision-making in this population.
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