Renegotiating sexual intimacy in the context of altered embodiment

the experiences of women with breast cancer and their male partners following mastectomy and reconstruction

Jessica M. Loaring, Michael Larkin, Rachel Shaw, Paul Flowers

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Breast cancer diagnosis and treatments can have a profound impact upon women's well-being, body image, and sexual functioning, but less is known about the relational context of their coping and the impact upon their intimate partners. Our study focuses upon couples' experiences of breast cancer surgery, and its impact on body image and sexual intimacy.

METHOD: Utilizing a dyadic design, we conducted 8 semistructured individual interviews, with 4 long-term heterosexual couples, after the women had undergone mastectomy with reconstruction. Interviews explored both partners' experiences of diagnosis, decision-making, and experiences of body image and sexual intimacy. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was adopted; this is a qualitative research approach characterized by in-depth analysis of the personal meaning of experiences.

RESULTS: Findings illustrate the positive acceptance that partners may express toward their wives' postsurgical bodies. They illuminate ways in which gendered coping styles and normative sexual scripts may shape couples' negotiations of intimacy around "altered embodiment." Reciprocal communication styles were important for couples' coping. The management of expectations regarding breast reconstruction may also be helpful.

CONCLUSIONS: The insights from the dyadic, multiple perspective design suggest that psychologists must situate the meaning of supportive relationships and other protective factors in the context of complex life events and histories, in order to understand and support people's developing responses to distress. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-436
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Fingerprint

Male Breast Neoplasms
Mastectomy
Body Image
Interviews
Breast Neoplasms
Mammaplasty
Qualitative Research
Heterosexuality
Negotiating
Spouses
Decision Making
Communication
Psychology

Bibliographical note

© 2015 APA, all rights reserved.
This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

Keywords

  • breast cancer
  • coping
  • dyads
  • qualitative
  • relationships

Cite this

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title = "Renegotiating sexual intimacy in the context of altered embodiment: the experiences of women with breast cancer and their male partners following mastectomy and reconstruction",
abstract = "OBJECTIVE: Breast cancer diagnosis and treatments can have a profound impact upon women's well-being, body image, and sexual functioning, but less is known about the relational context of their coping and the impact upon their intimate partners. Our study focuses upon couples' experiences of breast cancer surgery, and its impact on body image and sexual intimacy.METHOD: Utilizing a dyadic design, we conducted 8 semistructured individual interviews, with 4 long-term heterosexual couples, after the women had undergone mastectomy with reconstruction. Interviews explored both partners' experiences of diagnosis, decision-making, and experiences of body image and sexual intimacy. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was adopted; this is a qualitative research approach characterized by in-depth analysis of the personal meaning of experiences.RESULTS: Findings illustrate the positive acceptance that partners may express toward their wives' postsurgical bodies. They illuminate ways in which gendered coping styles and normative sexual scripts may shape couples' negotiations of intimacy around {"}altered embodiment.{"} Reciprocal communication styles were important for couples' coping. The management of expectations regarding breast reconstruction may also be helpful.CONCLUSIONS: The insights from the dyadic, multiple perspective design suggest that psychologists must situate the meaning of supportive relationships and other protective factors in the context of complex life events and histories, in order to understand and support people's developing responses to distress. (PsycINFO Database Record",
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Renegotiating sexual intimacy in the context of altered embodiment : the experiences of women with breast cancer and their male partners following mastectomy and reconstruction. / Loaring, Jessica M.; Larkin, Michael; Shaw, Rachel; Flowers, Paul.

In: Health Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 4, 04.2015, p. 426-436.

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

TY - JOUR

T1 - Renegotiating sexual intimacy in the context of altered embodiment

T2 - the experiences of women with breast cancer and their male partners following mastectomy and reconstruction

AU - Loaring, Jessica M.

AU - Larkin, Michael

AU - Shaw, Rachel

AU - Flowers, Paul

N1 - © 2015 APA, all rights reserved. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

PY - 2015/4

Y1 - 2015/4

N2 - OBJECTIVE: Breast cancer diagnosis and treatments can have a profound impact upon women's well-being, body image, and sexual functioning, but less is known about the relational context of their coping and the impact upon their intimate partners. Our study focuses upon couples' experiences of breast cancer surgery, and its impact on body image and sexual intimacy.METHOD: Utilizing a dyadic design, we conducted 8 semistructured individual interviews, with 4 long-term heterosexual couples, after the women had undergone mastectomy with reconstruction. Interviews explored both partners' experiences of diagnosis, decision-making, and experiences of body image and sexual intimacy. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was adopted; this is a qualitative research approach characterized by in-depth analysis of the personal meaning of experiences.RESULTS: Findings illustrate the positive acceptance that partners may express toward their wives' postsurgical bodies. They illuminate ways in which gendered coping styles and normative sexual scripts may shape couples' negotiations of intimacy around "altered embodiment." Reciprocal communication styles were important for couples' coping. The management of expectations regarding breast reconstruction may also be helpful.CONCLUSIONS: The insights from the dyadic, multiple perspective design suggest that psychologists must situate the meaning of supportive relationships and other protective factors in the context of complex life events and histories, in order to understand and support people's developing responses to distress. (PsycINFO Database Record

AB - OBJECTIVE: Breast cancer diagnosis and treatments can have a profound impact upon women's well-being, body image, and sexual functioning, but less is known about the relational context of their coping and the impact upon their intimate partners. Our study focuses upon couples' experiences of breast cancer surgery, and its impact on body image and sexual intimacy.METHOD: Utilizing a dyadic design, we conducted 8 semistructured individual interviews, with 4 long-term heterosexual couples, after the women had undergone mastectomy with reconstruction. Interviews explored both partners' experiences of diagnosis, decision-making, and experiences of body image and sexual intimacy. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was adopted; this is a qualitative research approach characterized by in-depth analysis of the personal meaning of experiences.RESULTS: Findings illustrate the positive acceptance that partners may express toward their wives' postsurgical bodies. They illuminate ways in which gendered coping styles and normative sexual scripts may shape couples' negotiations of intimacy around "altered embodiment." Reciprocal communication styles were important for couples' coping. The management of expectations regarding breast reconstruction may also be helpful.CONCLUSIONS: The insights from the dyadic, multiple perspective design suggest that psychologists must situate the meaning of supportive relationships and other protective factors in the context of complex life events and histories, in order to understand and support people's developing responses to distress. (PsycINFO Database Record

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