Breast cancer survivors with menopausal dyspareunia can have comfortable intercourse after applying liquid lidocaine compresses to the vulvar vestibule before penetration, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown.

Many breast cancer survivors experience dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse, due to low estrogen. Researchers sought to evaluate whether dyspareunia is introital pain, meaning that it could be prevented with analgesic liquid like lidocaine.

For the controlled, double-blind study, researchers enrolled 46 estrogen-deficient breast cancer survivors with severe penetrative dyspareunia.

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Participants were randomly assigned to apply either saline or 4% aqueous lidocaine to the vulvar vestibule for 3 minutes prior to vaginal penetration.

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After a 1-month blinded trial, all patients then received lidocaine for 2 months in an open-label portion.

Results showed that lidocaine users reported less pain during intercourse in the first phase (P=0.007). In the second phase, 90% of the 41 patients that continued to participate reported comfortable penetration. Participants also reported reduced sexual distress and improved sexual function.

Of note, none of the participants’ partners reported penile numbness after intercourse.


  1. Goetsch MF, Lim JY, Caughey AB, et al. A practical solution for dyspareunia in breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2015. [epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.60.7366.