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Many women experience sexual intimacy issues as side effect of battling cancer and undergoing treatment for it. For them, a diverse team of caregivers at Women & Infants Hospital has created the Women’s Intimacy and Sexual Health (WISH) Center to offer help and hope.

Difficulties with intimacy can occur both during and after cancer treatment, and can include:

  • Vaginal dryness, itching or burning.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Decreased desire or less pleasure during intercourse.
  • Changes in body image as a result of surgery or the effects of treatment.

“This is the first program in the region to address sexuality in a comprehensive, holistic manner,” says Katina Robison, MD, medical director of WISH and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “This is an important quality of life issue for women that we want to help them through.”

Part of the Program in Women’s Oncology and Breast Health Center at Women & Infants, WISH is made up of various specialists who can help patients enjoy intimate moments again. These include:

  • Breast and gynecologic health specialists.
  • Medical oncologists.
  • Nurse practitioners.
  • Sex therapists.
  • Physical therapists specializing in pelvic floor issues.

The solutions, according to Dr. Robison, can be very simple or can combine several resources including the use of lubricants and moisturizers, targeted physical therapy, emotional support, and talk therapy.

All of WISH services are offered at the Program in Women’s Oncology in Providence, a Commission on Cancer-designated cancer center. In addition, the Breast Health Center is accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers with a breast fellowship that is accredited by the Society of Surgical Oncology.

Women seeking help with intimacy concerns need to speak with their oncologist or primary care physician about a referral to the Center. Appointments can be made by calling (401) 453-7520.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 12th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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