Cancer and Sexual Health

In the Movember INTROSPPECT Study, couples experiencing intimacy concerns after prostate cancer treatment will be randomly assigned to either mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or control (no treatment) groups. Those assigned to treatment groups are invited to attend 2 hour long weekly group sessions with 4-6 other couples for 4 consecutive weeks. Treatment groups involve: training in either mindfulness or CBT skills, some education about healthy sexuality, and daily homework to practice guided mindfulness exercises or CBT tools. Some exercises are done alone, and some as a couple. Both members of the couple will complete 3 sets of online questionnaires at home (20-30 mins duration); one at baseline, at 6-weeks, and one again at 6 months. Couples assigned to the control group will also complete questionnaires at the same time points with no treatment. Both members of the couple provide signed and dated informed consent form

For more information see the full description of this study.

Contact: Faith Miller

- Closed for recruitment

Prostate cancer treatments are known to impact the sexual lives of men and their partners. Although treatments do exist to help rehabilitate sexual functioning, approximately 50% of people stop using these treatments after 6 months. Researchers at UBC and the Vancouver Prostate Centre are developing a new treatment using mindfulness-based therapy to help couples cope with the changes that prostate cancer bring to their sexual lives.

Couples are invited to attend 2 hour long weekly group sessions for 4 consecutive weeks. During those 4 weeks, there is daily homework involving completion of handouts or practicing guided mindfulness exercises. Some exercises are done alone, and some as a couple. The treatment groups involve mindfulness-training, education about healthy sexuality, and some other skills. As part of the IMPPACT study, both members of the couple will also complete 3 questionnaires; one before the treatment begins, one immediately after the treatment ends, and one again 6 months later. These questionnaires take approximately 20-30 minutes and are completed online.

 Contact: Jenn Bossio

- Closed for recruitment

The pilot of this intervention suggests that a professionally-facilitated, online support group where women can share and receive high quality information, and participate at their convenience in a safe and anonymous environment may be beneficial to women experiencing psychosexual distress related to gynecological cancer and its treatment. The aim of this randomized control trial is to demonstrate the efficacy of this intervention. In addition to participation over 12 weeks on the online forum, participants will be asked to complete questionnaires a month prior to the commencement of the study, after the 12 week intervention has ended, and again 4 months after that. In addition to completing these online assessments participants will also participate in an in-person interview at the 4 month follow up time point to discuss their experiences.

Contact: Adrienne Marsh

Asexuality studies

This study is investigating how sexual identity (asexuality and heterosexuality) is related to viewing patterns of erotic and neutral images. The study involves a short telephone interview about your sexuality, completion of an online questionnaire package at any time convenient for you, and an in-laboratory testing session to measure your visual attention using an eye tracker while you view a series of erotic and neutral images. Participation in this study will require one hour of your time and you will be compensated for your time.

Entry criteria: 

Men and Women between 19-45 years of age

  • Self-identify as asexual or heterosexual
  • Have normal or corrected-to-normal vision
  • Do not have eye diseases (e.g., macular degeneration, glaucoma)
  • Are not colour blind
  • Are not left-handed
  • Are able to read, write, and speak English

Contact: Sonia Milani

This study is investigating different aspects of sexuality among individuals who self-identify as asexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. This world-wide study involves completion of an online self-report questionnaire package at any time convenient for you. Participation in this study will require no more than 40-minutes of your time and you will be compensated for your time.

Entry criteria: 

Men and women between 19-45 years of age

  • Self-identify as asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual
  • Are able to read, write, and speak English

Contact: Sonia Milani

Sexual Desire/Arousal studies

In this treatment study for women's sexual interest and/or arousal difficulties, participants will be randomly assigned to take part in either group mindfulness-based therapy or support group therapy. Both types of therapy involve eight 2.25-hour weekly sessions that include discussion and education about sexual difficulties. The mindfulness group also includes learning and practicing mindfulness skills, and the support group emphasizes providing and receiving support from other women.

Participants will complete assessments (filling out questionnaires and collecting saliva samples at home, and a sexual arousal assessment in our laboratory) at four time-points: before treatment, and at 2-4 weeks, 6 months and 12 months after treatment. Treatment is provided free of charge and participants will be compensated for completing the assessments.

Entry criteria include:

  • Women between the ages of 19-65
  • Able to read, write and speak English fluently
  • Currently experiencing sexual desire and/or arousal difficulties
  • Able to attend 8 weekly group therapy sessions, complete homework between sessions, and complete 4 assessments

Contact person:  Faith Jabs

- Closed for recruitment

This study is investigating how women with and without sexual concerns respond to erotic pictures and videos. The study involves an in-depth telephone interview about health and sexuality and an in-laboratory testing session that includes the measurement of sexual response, the measurement of viewing patterns with an eye tracker, and a presentation of erotic pictures and videos. Participants will also complete questionnaires online at their own home. Participation in this study will require less than two hours of your time.

Contact person: Yvonne Erskine

- Closed for recruitment

The purpose of this study is to explore the effectiveness of a brief online mindfulness meditation intervention on women’s sexual desire. In this study, participants will take part in a brief Skype information session to determine eligibility, and complete a questionnaire to measure sexual desire, relationship satisfaction, empathy, stress, and mindfulness. Participants will be randomly assigned to either a mindfulness meditation or psychosexual education group, and will take part in a 4-week intervention period, which will include daily mind-body exercises. At the end of the intervention, participants will complete the same questionnaire to determine your post-intervention measures. This study spans across 6 weeks, and will take up approximately 6 hours of your time cumulatively.

Contact person: Adrianna Xue

- Closed for recruitment

Researchers at VGH and UBC are investigating the relationship between stress hormones (cortisol and DHEA), mood, and history of stressors, in women with and without sexual desire complaints. Women will take part in a face-to-face interview at our clinic, complete questionnaires and provide saliva samples from home to be analyzed for cortisol & DHEA. This project is led by Dr. Rosemary Basson from the BC Centre for Sexual Medicine.

Contact: Julia O'Loughlin

For prostate cancer patients, there are many well-designed quality of life studies in the heterosexual population. However, very little research has been dedicated to sexual function post treatment in men-who-have-sex-with-men. Through this study, we will develop and validate an assessment tool for sexual quality of life following prostate cancer treatment in men-who-have-sex-with-men.  By completing an online survey, which takes about 25 minutes, participants will have one in ten chance to win $50.

Contact: Dr. Tsz Kin (Bernard) Lee

Click here to complete the COMPASS study survey

Reproductive Mental Health

Approximately 1 in 10 Canadian new mothers are diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD). There is a need to learn from the experiences of women who have faced PPD in order to develop an online intervention delivered via mobile app and accessible by all women. Participation in a single 2-hour focus group will help to foster discussions based on open-ended questions, personal experiences, and the responses of other participants. These sessions also provide an opportunity to learn from and interact with other women who have experienced PPD, in addition to providing crucial input for the creation of a tool which will benefit other women experiencing PPD.

Entry Criteria:

  •  18 years or older
  • able to read, write, and speak conversational English
  • female by birth (cis-female)
  • have had a diagnosis of postpartum depression in the past five years, but are not currently diagnosed as having postpartum depression

Contact: Madison Lackie

Genital Pain/Provoked Vestibulodynia

- Closed for recruitment

Women diagnosed with Provoked Vestibulodynia (pain in the vulvar vestibule) will be randomly assigned to take part in either 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions focused on mindfulness meditation skills or 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions focused on cognitive behavioural therapy. Treatment will be provided by facilitators with considerable experience in working with women who have genital pain. In addition to receiving the treatment free of charge, women will be compensated for completing assessment measures at various times throughout the treatment. This project is a collaboration between the UBC Sexual Health Lab and the BC Centre for Sexual Medicine, with Centre staff facilitating treatment groups.

Contact: Adrienne Marsh

Completed Studies

  • Mindfulness, Incontinence and Sexual Function Treatment Study (MIST)
  • Sexual response in women: Investigating predictors of concordance between subjective and genital sexual arousal (VENUS study)
  • Predictors of sexual outcomes in experienced female meditators (POEM study)
  • Asexuality Study - Sexual Arousal in Asexual Men (SAAM)
  • Fantasy and Masturbation Online Study (FAMOS)
  • Asexuality: Characteristics of low desire in men and women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder and those identifying as asexual
  • Pregnancy, childbirth intentions and outcomes under sexual pain (PRECIOUS: Phase 2
  • Pregnancy, childbirth intentions, and outcomes under sexual pain (PRECIOUS): Phase 1
  • Online psychoeducation for sexual dysfunction in cancer survivors (OPES)
  • Vulvo-vaginal aesthetic surgery efficacy (VASE)
  • Visual Erotica, EMG, and Sexual Psychophysiological Arousal (VESPA)
  • Culture, Memory and Sexuality (CLEAN)
  • Integrated Mindfulness for Provoked Vestibulodynia (IMPROVED)
  • Differentiating hypoactive sexual desire from asexuality
  • Prophylactic bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy and sexual health (PROBES)
  • Trachelectomy, radical hysterectomy and intimate life after cervical cancer (TRAIL-CEC)
  • Cervical cancer, acculturation and sexuality in a community sample (CASE-com)
  • Sexual orientation, handedness, asexuality, and digit ratio in women (SHADOW)
  • Cervical or endometrial cancer and sexual health (CEC)
  • Group psychoeducational treatment for women with a history of childhood abuse (CSA-PED)
  • Advanced ovarian cancer and sexuality
  • Women’s HPV concerns after cervical cancer and sexuality
  • Exploring Damocles syndrome
  • Vestibulitis / vulvodynia educational seminars
  • Exploring the relationship between androgens, interpersonal factors, and sexual health in aging women
  • Understanding acculturation and PAP-smear testing in BC
  • Acculturation and arousal in female university students
  • The role of acculturation in the interaction between barriers to cancer screening and sexuality
  • Understanding asexuality
  • Sexual health and quality of life in individuals with androgen insensitivity syndrome
  • Survey of motivations of sexual desire (MODERN)
  • Psychoeducation for women with disabilities