TabooBreakers: let’s talk about sex, baby

Healthcare is evolving every day. New treatments, preventive healthcare and better diagnoses enable us to live longer. Although that’s mostly a good thing, it also means more and more people are forced to deal with chronic diseases and adverse consequences of treatment. Sometimes as temporary side effects, sometimes as irreversible damage. One of those major side effects is very much taboo: sex. How can you shift sexual problems a bit more into people’s comfort zone?

In May we joined Dutch Hacking Health Leiden with seven of our colleagues. At the event we aimed to address as many high-impact issues as possible. We ended up participating in three teams; one of the teams was Taboobreakers.

This team aimed to lower the thresholds of discussing sex related topics for patients. Urologists Dr. Henk Elzevier and Dr. Gaby Van Ek and urology resident Leonore Albers from LUMC presented this controversial topic at the hackathon. They were looking for designers and developers who could join them in their effort to release patients from this additional burden of medical treatments.

As an example, let’s focus on oncology. Every year 15 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer. These people have to face heavy treatments associated with long-term side effects. Interviews conducted with patients of the LUMC revealed that over 50% of all cancer patients are experiencing sexual problems due to the treatment. This is affecting not only their self-confidence, but also putting a heavy strain on their relationships. The impact of all the stress this causes affects their wellbeing, as well as their ability to cope with the disease.

Designer Steven van der Laan and developers Erik Hoogendoorn and Bob de Vos decided to help the ambitious health professionals. Sexuality issues are for many people hard to talk about, whether it’s with their doctor or with their partner. Communicating via digital platforms often makes it easier for people to discuss difficult subjects.

So, the team members of TabooBreakers joined forces for a whole weekend and came up with a great solution: the self-management app ‘Talkit’. With this digital solution patients (and their partners) can address the sexual matters that have a disruptive impact on their lives without being directly confronted face-to-face.

Find out what ‘Talkit’ can do for these patients, watch the video!