Prostate Cancer and Your Sex Life | Health
ONE in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, making it the most common cancer in men. Treatments like surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy remove or destroy cancer. However, all of these treatments can have sexual side effects. This can include difficulty having an erection, having an orgasm, and having children.
Prostate cancer can slow your sex drive. Knowing that you have cancer and being treated can make you too anxious to have sex.
Hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer can also affect sex drive. This treatment slows the growth of prostate cancer by lowering the levels of testosterone in your body. You need testosterone to have a healthy libido. It can also affect your self-esteem and sex drive by causing you to gain weight or enlarge your breast tissue. If your hormone levels are low, your doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy to bring them back to normal. It depends on your overall cancer treatment plan.
Some men notice that their penis is slightly smaller after treatment for prostate cancer. In a 2013 study, about three percent of participants said they had a reduced penis size after radical prostatectomy or radiation plus hormone therapy. The men said their smaller penises affected their relationships and their life satisfaction.
For men who go through this, the size change is usually half an inch or less. This decrease in size may be due to the shrinkage of the tissues in the penis. These tissues can shrink due to damage to the nerves and blood vessels.
When you are sexually aroused, the nerves cause the tissues in your penis to relax, allowing blood to flow through the organ. The nerves that control erection are very delicate. Surgery or radiation therapy for prostate cancer can damage them enough to cause erectile dysfunction. When you have erectile dysfunction, you cannot get or maintain an erection.
Radical prostatectomy is surgery to remove the prostate. When your surgeon removes the gland, it can damage the nerves and blood vessels that run along it. If they are damaged enough, you will not be able to have an erection after the procedure.
Today, doctors can perform nerve-preserving surgery, which helps prevent permanent erectile dysfunction. Your surgeon can still touch these nerves and blood vessels, causing erectile dysfunction as a temporary side effect. Many men find it difficult to get an erection for a few weeks, months, or even years after their procedure.
Radiation therapy also damages the blood vessels and nerves that control erection. Up to half of men who undergo radiation therapy for prostate cancer experience erectile dysfunction afterwards. In some men, this symptom will improve over time. Sometimes the side effects of radiation do not appear until a few months after treatment. If erectile dysfunction starts late, it may not go away.
Surgery for prostate cancer can affect both your orgasms and your ability to have children. The prostate normally adds a fluid called semen to the semen to nourish and protect it. You will not make any more semen after the surgery, which means your orgasms will be dry. Radiation therapy can also reduce the amount of fluid you ejaculate. Without sperm, you cannot have children. If you are concerned about fertility, you can bank your sperm before your surgery.
After surgery, orgasms will also be different. You will not have this normal accumulation of sensations until you have an orgasm. However, you will still be able to experience pleasure.
The Jamaican Cancer Society will host a Prostate Cancer Public Forum on Sunday, September 19, starting at 1 p.m. It’s free to the public and the meeting link will be posted on their website. The company is also hosting its annual Prostate Cancer Medical Symposium on September 26 at 9 a.m.
September is also considered Pediatric Awareness Month, and the Jamaican Cancer Society will be hosting a Pediatric Mini-Symposium on Thursday, September 30, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
The sexual side effects of treatment for prostate cancer are often temporary, especially if your doctor uses nerve-preserving surgery. While your body is recovering, there are a few things you can try to maintain your sex life:
• Tell your doctor immediately if you have any sexual problems. While it can be difficult to talk about sex, being open and honest will help you get the treatment you need.
• Consult a therapist. Couples therapy can help you and your partner understand and deal with sexual problems.
• Take care of yourself by exercising, eating a balanced diet, reducing stress and getting enough sleep. Looking and feeling your best will boost your self-esteem and your mood.