A group of researchers from CINTESIS – Center for Health Technology and Services Research and the University of Aveiro (UA) is looking for young women who have beaten cancer or are fighting it to answer an online survey (in Portuguese only). The objective is to assess their reproductive concerns and other psychological and social aspects, and to develop programmes for psychological support designed to meet the needs of these women who have to cope with fertility problems.
“The consequences of cancer and oncologic treatments on the reproductive capacity of women of childbearing age represent an additional stress in the course of the disease, are a threat to women’s maternity plans, and may interfere with their marital relationships,” explains Ana Bártolo, researcher at CINTESIS, referring that when confronted with a breast or gynaecology cancer diagnosis, some younger women will raise the question “Will I be able to get pregnant?”
In a society where the role of women as mothers is relevant and is part of most women’s plans, a threat to the possibility of becoming pregnant and having a traditional family is a major source of stress and may have implications on the mental health of women who are cancer survivors, namely with regard to the development of anxiety and depression.
“The study aims to assess the psychological and social aspects in which we can intervene in a more careful way, without losing sight of a holistic approach. Ultimately, we aim at alleviating the suffering and strengthening the reorganization of these women’s lives projects that often include motherhood,” emphasizes the psychologist from CINTESIS.
It is important to highlight that even though cancer is more prevalent among older age groups, there are types of cancer with marked incidence levels affecting women aged 15-39.
Besides Ana Bártolo, the CINTESIS researchers and professors at the University of Aveiro, Sara Monteiro and Isabel Santos, are also part of the team.
The online survey is available HERE (in Portuguese). More information about the project funded by the FCT – Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology can be found at: http://psycho-oncologyresearch.web.ua.pt/.