Effects of Exercise on Sexual Dysfunction in Patients With Prostate Cancer – A Systematic Review

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J Sex Med. 2021 Oct 12:S1743-6095(21)00666-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2021.09.001. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Emerging evidence suggests that exercise interventions may improve sexual dysfunction, one of the most common and distressing long-term adverse effects of cancer treatment.

AIM: The aim of this systematic review is to provide an overview of the effects of exercise on sexual dysfunction in prostate cancer patients.

METHODS: A systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses statement. The systematic literature search was performed on 13th July 2021 using CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Embase, Medline and Web of Science. Studies were included if they were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing sexual function in prostate cancer patients conducting an exercise intervention alone or in combination with other supportive interventions. The methodological quality was assessed using the Physiotherapy Education Database Score and Jadad scale. Outcomes were reported as between-group differences. Intragroup differences were also reported if significant.

OUTCOMES: Positive intervention effects on sexual function were primarily observed in patients following prostatectomy and undergoing anti-hormone treatment and for pelvic floor muscle exercises as well as aerobic and resistance exercise.

RESULTS: 22 RCTs (n = 1.752 patients) met the eligibility criteria, conducting either an exercise-only intervention (n = 10), a multimodal (exercise plus other supportive therapy) intervention (n = 4), or pelvic floor muscle exercises (n = 8). 6 RCTs assessed sexual dysfunction as a primary endpoint and 8 RCTs used dedicated assessment methods. 9 of the 22 RCTs found significant between-group differences in favor of the intervention group.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The multifaceted etiology of sexual dysfunction provides a strong rationale to further investigate the effects of exercise on sexual dysfunction in prostate cancer patients and also to consider a multidisciplinary approach.

STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS: A strength is the comprehensive literature search to identify RCTs involving different exercise interventions and a wide range of sexual function assessments. Further, this is the first systematic review on this topic. The main limitations include the difficulty to compare studies due to the heterogeneity of exercise interventions and low questionnaire completion rates in some studies.

CONCLUSION: Preliminary data from a small number of studies suggest that certain exercise interventions may improve sexual dysfunction in prostate cancer patients, however further trials involving sexual dyfunction as a primary outcome and more comprehensive assessment tools are needed to confirm the rehabilitative and preventive effects of exercise on sexual dysfunction in prostate cancer patients. Nadine Reimer, Eva Maria Zopf, Rebecca Böwe, et al. Effects of Exercise on Sexual Dysfunction in Patients With Prostate Cancer – A Systematic Review. J Sex Med 2021;XX:XXX-XXX.

PMID:34654674 | DOI:10.1016/j.jsxm.2021.09.001