5 years ago

Experiences of Sexuality Six Years After Stroke: A Qualitative Study

Little is known about the long-term consequences of stroke on sexuality, and studies on how individuals with stroke communicate with health care professionals about information and/or interventions on sexuality are even sparser. Aim To explore experiences of sexuality 6 years after stroke, including communication with health care professionals concerning sexuality. Methods This qualitative study was based on data collected by semistructured interviews with 12 informants 43 to 81 years old 6 years after stroke. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was performed. Results The analysis resulted in the following three themes. Not exclusively negative experiences in sexuality after stroke: Most informants experienced some change in their sexual life from before their stroke. Decreased sexual interest and function were ascribed to decreased sensibility, post-stroke pain, or fatigue. Some informants reported positive changes in sexuality, which were attributed to feelings of increased intimacy. Individual differences and variability on how to handle sexuality after stroke: Different strategies were used to manage unwanted negative changes such as actively trying to adapt by planning time with the partner and decreasing pressure or stress. Open communication about sexuality with one’s partner also was described as important. Strikingly, most informants with negative experiences of sexual life attributed these to age or a stage in life and not to the stroke or health issues. Furthermore, they compared themselves with others without stroke but with changes in sexuality, thus achieving a sense of normality. Communication and counseling concerning sexuality—many unmet needs: Experiences of communication with health care professionals varied. Very few informants had received any information or discussed sexuality with health care professionals during the 6 years since the stroke, although such needs were identified by most informants. Clinical Translation When encountering individuals with previous stroke, there is a need for vigilance concerning individual experiences of stroke on sexuality to avoid under- or overestimating the impact and to raise the subject, which currently might be seldom. Strengths and Limitations Individuals with long-term diverse consequences of stroke and with different sociodemographic backgrounds were interviewed. Because most individuals in the present study had retained functioning, this could decrease transferability to populations with more severe sequelae after stroke. Conclusions and Implications The individuals in the present study had different experiences of sexuality after stroke. The results point to the importance of acknowledging sexual rehabilitation as part of holistic person-centered stroke rehabilitation. Nilsson MI, Fugl-Meyer K, von Koch L, Ytterberg C. Experiences of Sexuality Six Years After Stroke: A Qualitative Study. J Sex Med 2017;14:797–803.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1743609517305003

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