Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently occurring cancers among men and can be a very frightening diagnosis. There are many treatment options for prostate cancer depending on your age and the extent of the cancer. The most common treatment is a radical prostatectomy. Others include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy, and radiation therapy. Many of these treatments result in some level of erectile dysfunction (ED). In Western culture, masculinity is often tied to sexual performance. A diagnosis of prostate cancer begins a physical, psychological, and spiritual journey which can extend well beyond the treatment and recovery phases.
Both the diagnosis and treatment for prostate cancer can impact sexuality, intimacy, and personal relationships. Initial reactions to prostate cancer often focus on fear of the unknown, management of symptoms related to treatments, and long-term survival. Sexuality and intimacy become relevant immediately because they can be impacted by many of the treatments for prostate cancer.
Concerns about sexual performance and its effect on intimacy are usually important to most men but may vary from person-to-person. For the same individual, concerns may vary over time and can depend on age, the stage of cancer, coping skills (which can vary on any given day), support systems, and the quality of your relationship with your partner.
The sexual being is integral to the physical, psychological, and spiritual being, and therefore must be carefully attended to.
The impact of prostate cancer on your sexual relationship must be talked about, preferably right from the start.
If you’ve had surgery, discuss when to resume sexual relations with your surgeon. Generally, sexual relations can resume after prostate surgery when your surgical incisions have healed (if you’ve had surgery) and/or your overall sense of well-being has improved.