Men who are enduring treatments for prostate cancer are expected to have difficulties when it comes to their sex life. Aside from losing interest in the act entirely, there are those who wanted to do so but are having problems getting an erection.
“Impotence, erectile dysfunction, sexual issues and incontinence in these patients complicate matters further. Anxiety may exist both before testing and while awaiting test results. Confusion over choosing from various interventions often adds to anxiety and depression in these patients,” Dr. Avinash Desousa, a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist based in Mumbai, finds.
The Prostate Gland
In basic anatomy and physiology, the prostate gland, which is strategically located below the urinary bladder, is considered part of the male sex organ; its primary role is to secrete a fluid that is a significant component of semen. The prostate gland helps in propelling the seminal fluid inside the urethra every ejaculation. Referred to as the walnut-shaped organ, the prostate gland is said to be healthy when its surface is regular and smooth.
Prostate Cancer In A Nutshell
Prostate cancer is a disease wherein cancer cells proliferate into the prostate tissues where they reside and multiply; thus, forming a lump or tumor. In the United States, prostate cancer is considered as the widely known cancer in men wherein more than 230,000 were diagnosed in 2013. Annually, there are about thousands who die from this illness. Based on a report made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of men who have prostate cancer are those who are 65 years old and above.
As the tumor grows within the prostate and becomes big enough to result in blockage of the urethra, it causes a series of signs and symptoms, namely:
- Dribbling, intermittent or weak stream of urine
- Full bladder with straining during urination
- Blood is present in the urine
As you can see, prostate cancer mainly affects the quality and quantity of urine expelled from the body. Prostate cancer in itself is not responsible for causing sexual problems for the majority of men who have it.
Sex After Treatment
As previously stated, the disease itself does not cause sexual predicaments; however, during treatment, there can be major repercussion that can directly affect a man’s sex drive.
Furthermore, upon diagnosis of having cancer, men tend to become depressed which also changes their interest in having sex with their partner. Some of the therapies that can cause sex problems are radiation and hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. Treatment becomes more challenging due to the affinity of nerves that supplies impulses to the prostate which are commonly damaged.
Surgery requires the removal of the prostate gland which poses a risk for the patient to have erectile dysfunction or the inability to have a proper penile erection. This is due to potential damage to the nerves around the gland. Because of the increased number of risks, surgery is the last course of treatment offered to a patient with prostate cancer because of its radical, invasive, and permanent nature.
Get Your Sex Life Back
While sexual dysfunction is expected for most prostate cancer treatments, the good news is, there are a lot of ways to counter these adverse effects. A lot of options are currently available to aid in reviving a healthy sex life. While fatigue due to treatments can cause loss of interest in sex, it will recede over time. Other treatments that can help in achieving normal erections include medications, creams, vacuum pumps, and implants. Through it all, the essential element is emotional and psychological support.
“Many of these issues can be worked out in individual therapy. Find a therapist that you are comfortable with, so that you in turn are comfortable talking about material that may previously been embarrassing, or you have never admitted,” writes Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D. LCPC.