Prostate cancer patients who are undergoing or have had treatment can experience sex-related issues. These include troubles with fertility, losing interest in sex, and getting an erection.
A lump or tumour is created when cells in the prostate tissue develop uncontrolled, a condition known as prostate cancer or cancer of the prostate gland. The urethra, the tube that takes urine from the bladder to leave the body, can become blocked if the tumour becomes large enough.
Prostate cancer often has little effect on sexual function, although in rare instances, it may cause erection problems. On the other hand, the entire cancer experience, including its effects on the reproductive system and its treatments, which may involve radiation therapy, surgery, or hormone therapy, might lead to issues.
The most prevalent non-skin cancer in men in the US is prostate cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 13 out of every 100 American men are affected (CDC).
It is common to experience anxiety and depression after receiving a cancer diagnosis and while undergoing treatment. Relationship tension can also be caused by anxiety.
Multiple physical changes brought on by prostate cancer might have an impact on a person’s sexual confidence. These may consist of:
- Constipation issues and urine leaking
- having trouble getting an erection
- decreased generation of sperm
- lower fertility
- These problems may have an impact on sexual performance and desire.
An active course of treatment may not be necessary if the cancer is in its early stages and slow-growing. This strategy is referred to as cautious waiting. Although worry may persist and the individual may still have less interest in sex as a result, monitoring does not have adverse effects that lead to sex issues. Counseling could assist them in overcoming this.
Some people may be concerned that they have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but prostate cancer is not a STI and cannot be transferred by sexual activity or any other method.
Prostate cancer affecting sex life
Even prior to starting treatment, having prostate cancer might have an impact on your sexual life. However, it could take some time for you to notice how it affects you.
Typically, prostate cancer doesn’t immediately affect how you sex (unless your prostate gets very large). However, receiving a cancer diagnosis, regardless of the type, can have psychological or emotional effects. And you’re less likely to be interested in having sex if your diagnosis makes you feel scared, apprehensive, or depressed. The term “poor libido” is sometimes used to describe this.
If you often engage in sexual activity with someone, they may experience stress or sadness as a result of your diagnosis, which could affect their libido as well.
And as you might expect, sex is less likely to occur frequently if neither you nor your spouse are particularly interested in having it. This suggests that those who receive a prostate cancer diagnosis may be less likely to engage in sexual activity. Additionally, initiating treatment for prostate cancer frequently results in new sexual difficulties.
Prostate cancer treatments affect your sex life?
Hormone therapy, surgery, and radiation therapy are the top prostate cancer treatments. Your sexual life may be impacted by any of these treatments. Because of this, it’s critical to comprehend the possibility of sexual side effects during prostate cancer therapy so that you and your healthcare team can make the best decisions possible.
Treatment for prostate cancer may have an impact on:
- Libido (sex drive)
- sexual enjoyment
- Testicle and penis size
Possible sexual side effects of prostate cancer and/or its treatment
Sexual adverse effects are conceivable with prostate cancer as well as the available therapies (surgery, radiation, and/or hormone therapy). The following list includes some of the most frequently mentioned side effects of prostate cancer on a person’s sexual function:
- Erectile dysfunction: A man may occasionally struggle to achieve or sustain an erection following a prostatectomy (surgical to remove the prostate).
- Loss of interest in sex: Managing a cancer diagnosis and receiving treatment can be stressful and draining, thus it is common for someone to momentarily lose interest in sex during this time. The desire for sexual activity can also be decreased by some medications, such as hormone therapy.
- Ejaculatory issues: Men who have undergone therapy for prostate cancer may notice that their ejaculations are diminished or nonexistent. Compared to prior treatment, orgasm may also feel different.
- Lack of self-assurance or low sexual self-esteem: Having trouble getting an erection, having urine leakage, and/or having less or no semen volume may all lead to feelings of sexual self-consciousness or performance anxiety.
Things a person can do for a healthy sex life after prostate cancer
One can overcome these challenges and regain a healthy sex life after cancer by being informed about the potential sexual health effects of prostate cancer and its treatment. Following prostate cancer therapy, a person can improve their sexual life in the following ways:
- Penile rehabilitation: Improvements in erections within the first year following surgery may enhance general contentment and quality of life, while the effects of penile rehabilitation are still under question.
- Erection aids: There are a number of erectile dysfunction treatments available, including prescription drugs, vacuum devices, and penile implants, which are mechanical devices inserted surgically into the penis to enable a man to get an erection whenever he wants.
- Counseling or sex therapy: When it comes to sexual function, a person’s mental health is just as vital as their physical health. A person might think about consulting a psychologist or sex therapist for help through a significant life event, including receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment.
- Open communication: Honest, open communication with a sexual partner is essential for a patient who is in a relationship. This can reduce sexual performance anxiety for both partners, enable them to manage their expectations for their sexual connection, and build a foundation of trust for future intimacy.
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