How Is Intimacy And Sex Affected Following Prostate Cancer Treatment?
In Western culture, masculinity is often tied to sexual performance. Men are faced with many physical, emotional and sexual challenges after a diagnosis of prostate cancer. The fear of losing the ability to be physically intimate with their partner is both common and understandable. There are many treatment options available for prostate cancer depending on your age and the extent of the cancer. The most common treatment for prostate cancer is a radical prostatectomy (surgery).
It involves the complete removal of the prostate gland and surrounding tissues. Other treatment options include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy, and radiation therapy. Erectile dysfunction can be a result of many of theses treatments. That’s why it’s important to take the time to discuss all of your options with your cancer treatment team and ask questions on how treatment may potentially affect your sexual function.
Here are some important tips to consider during and after prostate cancer treatment:
Intimacy is about more than sex, it’s about connecting with your partner emotionally. Relationships are full of many challenges and obstacles that need to be faced together, and prostate cancer is no different. Find different ways to be intimate with your partner. Hugging, kissing and just touching your partner are good ways to connect. Be affectionate, available, and remember that you don’t need intercourse to be physically or emotionally fulfilled with your partner.
If you understand the physical and sexual side effects you may face during or after prostate cancer treatment, you’ll be better prepared to handle them. Ask your healthcare provider what to expect from treatment and formulate a plan to address any concerns you may have. It also might be necessary to see someone who specializes in sexual function (many times this is a urologist or a sex therapist).
Communicate With Your Partner
Communication in your relationship is important. Be honest with your feelings, concerns and needs. If you’re open with how you’re feeling, you can work together to address what is best for you as a couple sexaully.
Seek Support From Other Couples
Network and speak with others who have had similar experiences. Often times, a local prostate cancer support group can be a great forum to gain knowledge and support. Online forums and discussion groups are also great ways to ask questions and get support.