Research Article|Articles in Press

Change in vaginal length and sexual function in women who undergo surgery ± radiation therapy for endometrial cancer

Published:February 25, 2023DOI:



      Endometrial Cancer (EC) is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States. Standard treatment is TAH/BSO with radiation therapy (RT) and chemotherapy given based on risk. Treatment can cause significant vaginal changes, including shortening, narrowing, loss of elasticity, atrophy, and dryness. These are not life threatening, but affect a woman's physical, psychological, and social functioning. Adjuvant vaginal dilator use is often advised, but there are inconsistent recommendations on use. This prospective study compared vaginal length changes and sexual function in women compliant with dilation versus not after surgery and RT.


      Enrolled patients underwent surgery for Stage I-IIIC EC ±RT. Vaginal dilator use was recommended for women receiving RT (external beam or brachytherapy). Vaginal length was measured with a vaginal sound and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to assess sexual function.


      Forty-one enrolled patients had sufficient data for analysis. Dilation significantly increased FSFI scores (p = 0.02) while RT without dilation showed a significant decrease (p = 0.04). Dilation helped maintain vaginal length for all patients (0 cm vs. 1.8 cm loss (p = 0.03)). Individual arms did not show statistically significant changes in length with dilation, though the trend showed RT without dilation had an average loss of 2.3 cm as compared to only 0.2 cm for regular dilation. Notably, there was no difference in length change with dilation for surgery alone versus surgery and RT (p = 0.14).


      This data provides novel, prospective evidence of the benefit of vaginal dilation for maintaining vaginal length and improving sexual health after any pelvic treatment for EC. This evidence also supports that the addition of RT after surgery does not appear to significantly worsen vaginal shortening. This study has important implications for providing a strong foundation for future studies and helping to establish solid clinical management criteria for the prevention of vaginal stenosis and promotion of female sexual health.


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