Symptom: Sexual Dysfunction

Initial Grading Reminder

Note: Erectile dysfunction in men has been reported but generally improves once the deficient hormones are replaced. Therefore, this section focuses on the side effect of decreased sexual drive.

CTCAE grading of decreased sexual drive:

Grade 1: Decrease in sexual interest not adversely affecting relationship
Grade 2: Decrease in sexual interest adversely affecting relationship

Assessment and Grading

Characterize the symptom (onset, pace)

Ask the patient:

Have you had any issues with decreased desire in the past? When did the symptom start? Has it developed gradually or suddenly? Any new medication or medication adjustments recently?

Grade the symptom

Ask the patient:

How would you characterize the change in your sexual drive? Is this affecting your current relationship(s)?

Patient Query Regarding Other Symptoms/Red Flags

Ask the patient:

Do you have other symptoms? Any new or worsening fatigue or depression? Any lumps in your neck? Do you have any severe head pain with vision changes, fever, or nausea and vomiting?

Patient Factors to Consider That Affect the Approach to Intervention

Consider the following in individualizing the intervention: Is the patient a good or poor historian? Any language barriers or cognitive deficits? Is the patient reliable (able to carry out treatment recommendations)? Does this patient have alcohol/substance abuse issues? Does the patient have transportation? Is there sufficient caregiver support?

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    Suggested Intervention

    Patients who are bothered by the sexual dysfunction should be seen.

    Patients with any of the red-flag symptoms should be seen immediately.

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    Nursing Assessment of Potential Causes

    Hypophysitis - Nursing Assessment

    • Look
    • Listen
    • Recognize
    • Look
    • Listen
    • Recognize
    • Look
    • Listen
    • Recognize
    • Does the patient appear fatigued?
    • Does the patient look listless?
    • Does the patient look ill?
    • Does the patient look uncomfortable?
    • Does the patient report:
      • Change in energy?
      • Headache?
      • Dizziness?
      • Nausea/vomiting?
      • Altered mental status?
      • Visual disturbances?
      • Fever?
    • Low levels of hormones produced by pituitary gland (ACTH, TSH, FSH, LH, GH, prolactin)
    • Brain MRI with pituitary cuts: enhancement and swelling of the pituitary gland
    • DDX adrenal insufficiency: low cortisol and high ACTH
    • DDX primary hypothyroidism: low free T4 and high TSH

    Thyroiditis - Nursing Assessment

    • Look
    • Listen
    • Recognize
    • Look
    • Listen
    • Recognize
    • Look
    • Listen
    • Recognize
    • Does the patient appear unwell?
    • Changes in weight since last visit
      • Appear heavier? Thinner?
    • Changes in hair texture/thickness?
    • Appearing hot/cold?
    • Does the patient look fatigued?
    • Appetite/weight changes?
    • Hot or cold intolerance?
    • Change in energy, mood, or behavior?
    • Palpitations?
    • Increased fatigue?
    • Bowel-related changes?
      • Constipation/diarrhea
    • Skin-related changes?
      • Dry/oily
    • Ensure that patient undergoes thyroid function tests prior to first dose, every 12 weeks while on PD-1 therapy and q3 weeks with ipilimumab
    • High TSH with low free T4 consistent with primary hypothyroidism
    • DDX: secondary hypothyroidism due to hypophysitis, low TSH and low free T4
    • Occasionally thyroiditis with transient hyperthyroidism (low TSH and high free T4) may be followed by more longstanding hypothyroidism (high TSH and low free T4)
    • Other immune-related toxicity?
    • Prior thyroid dysfunction?

    Differential Diagnosis

    What do you suspect is the cause of the the decreased sexual desire?