Sex and the Prostate Cancer Patient

Q. I can’t get erections after prostate cancer treatment. Does that mean I will never have sex again?
A. The quality of your erections may not be the same after treatment for prostate cancer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy penetrative sex. There are many options to help the firmness: medication, vacuum erection pumps, injections and implants. It is also important to realize that sex can be about more than penetration. Learning different techniques to pleasure your partner may be just as enjoyable. Improving upon your oral sex techniques, or mutual masturbation may bring pleasure equal to vaginal intercourse. A sex therapist can help you learn with these techniques.

Q. Since my treatment for prostate cancer, I have lost my interest in sex. Will that return?
A. Some of the hormone treatments, Lupron, Zolodex, Firmagon, used to fight prostate cancer can interrupt one’s desire for sex by decreasing the testosterone levels in the man’s blood stream. If you have a partner, it is important to discuss this side effect. You may find it helpful to have scheduled sexual activity to encourage closeness and intimacy. Sometimes, interest in sex builds when people engage in more foreplay. Also, touching by handholding and kissing can be also be pleasurable to both the man and the woman.

Q: Will my sexual function ever return to what it once was?
Many men grieve the function they had in their youth, forgetting that even without cancer, their level of function would likely change as they age. In either case, if you are going through proper rehabilitation starting immediately after treatment, you will have a greater chance of regaining most of your sexual function. Depending on the long-term treatment plan you and your doctor choose, you may find you need assistance through medications, vacuum erection devices, injections, and the surgical implantation of a penile prosthesis.

This Q and A was inspired and modified from an article by Melissa Donahue, LCSW from the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness http://www.njsexualwellness.com

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