Women’s perceptions of femininity after craniopharyngioma: a qualitative study.
Previous quantitative studies have shown a reduced quality of life in patients treated for craniopharyngioma (CP). However, few have assessed their sexual quality of life and other issues related to patient intimacy have not yet been addressed. Standardized questionnaires limit the approach to sexuality and the exploration of patient experiences. A qualitative study, which allows in-depth analysis, may represent an interesting approach to explore intimacy in women with a history of CP.To assess the impact of a CP history on femininity and relationships in women.A qualitative study with semi-structured interviews was conducted with 15 adult women treated for CP during childhood, adolescence or at childbearing age up to 40 years of age. Interviews were audio recorded, anonymized and transcribed literally. Data analysis was carried out with an inductive approach according to the grounded theory method.Three main themes were identified: (a) apparent changes leading to altered self-perception that may impact on femininity and generate lower self-esteem; (b) managing the hidden disabilities of the disease inducing a need for permanent control; and (c) building parenthood and couple relationships: coping with sexual dysfunction and infertility.Our study highlighted alterations in self-perception and femininity due to body change and disability resulting from CP treatment, impacting both couple and social relationships. Interviewing women who underwent CP surgery at different ages highlighted specific needs and different expectations of medical professionals which emphasize the importance of offering both global and personalized care.