Supporting A Partner With Prostate Cancer
The cancer process is not a solo flight. Families and friends are affected by watching you navigate through the disease. Your partner is often just as frightened and concerned about prostate cancer as you are. They might fear losing you, suffer grief related to loss of normal daily activities, be upset by changes in your relationship, and may fear hurting you during sexual relations. Studies have shown that partners coped better when involved in the decision making process along the course of prostate cancer treatment. Men who feel their partners are emotionally involved along the way feel more supported and less distressed. This leads to better psychological adjustment and sexual relations.
You may be very focused on the return of erections following treatment. It is important to discuss your feelings and anxieties regarding intimacy early in the recovery process to create more openness and honesty between yourself and your partner. Waiting until just prior to the first sexual encounter may be a set-up for unmet expectations, disappointments, and intimacy problems down-the-road.
The first sexual experience is very important for a healthy long-term sexual adjustment, less emotional distress for both partners, and improved relationship satisfaction. Talk about your sexual relations prior to engaging in sex and plan to make it a good experience.
It is important for your partner to be aware of her initial reaction during sexual encounters, particularly the first. She should not deny her own feelings, but her overall emotion of caring should be expressed to you. Her role at this point is to provide security at this vulnerable time.
Partners, your willingness to initiate relations once you’ve re-established intimacy will go a long way in reassuring your partner of his sex appeal and your devotion. It’s the caring that counts!
Of course, your personal relationship prior to a diagnosis of prostate cancer helps determine the quality of the interactions afterward. If there were problems in the relationship, those might become magnified during the stress of cancer recovery. If not involved in a relationship prior to prostate cancer, you might feel challenged to explain changes endured as a result of treatments, and what is needed from an intimate relationship.
If you didn’t have frequent sexual relations prior to prostate cancer, this will likely impact sexual frequency after your diagnosis and treatment. In order to minimize erectile dysfunction after treatment, it is important to work on stimulation and erectile function frequently. If it’s important to you to continue to have the most optimum erections you can, either engage your partner in sexual relations or consider masturbation as an option.