There are always side effects
No matter which cancer it may be, the treatments often cause side effects that impact on a patient’s quality of life. However, in the case of prostate cancer, the potential side effects can be somewhat concerning to men who are undecided about which treatment to follow.
There are not many choices to opt for when treatment for prostate cancer is being considered. These options include surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy, and also chemotherapy – if the cancer has spread. The prostate is located near to key nerves, blood vessels and muscles that help to make an erection possible. Surgery, radiation or chemo, can damage these areas, making it difficult to get an erection.
The most common complaint after the various treatments, from about 80% of men, is an erectile dysfunction (ED) issue. In effect, it means that you cannot get an erection that is hard enough for penetration. Fortunately, with time many of the side effects will disappear, and the younger the patient is, the higher the chances are that he will fully regain sexual function.
The different ways the treatment can affect you
Unfortunately, a measure of sexual dysfunction is always a potential issue for most of the prostate cancer treatments. Here are some details of the issues:
- Surgery is an immediate option, and any sexual dysfunction has time to improve fairly quickly. However, if there is any nerve damage during surgery, the recovery period could be very much longer, months or even years. Anything can happen, but with a competent surgeon performing the operation, there is a low risk of nerve damage.
- In the beginning, erections are usually less affected by radiation. However, studies have shown that over time, sometimes even years later, ED and other problems may develop.
- Hormonal treatment. Prostate cancer feeds on testosterone which means that the hormonal treatment usually involves taking estrogen to counter the testosterone. This might give you the same hot flashes women get during menopause, which may be somewhat distressing. However the lowering of the testosterone levels in your body will also have an impact on your sex drive and bedroom performance. It has also been known to slightly reduce the size of the penis.
- After chemo treatment, some patients may struggle to get an erection. However, the overall health and age of the person concerned, can influence how long it will take to return to an active sex life after treatment.
Although different treatments will affect different people in different ways, there are basic similarities in side effects presented by each type of treatment. The similarities are a measure of sexual dysfunction which, depending on circumstances, has the potential to improve with time.
Some tips to help a healthy sex life resume after cancer
- A first step to helping to restore their physical relationship is for couples to discuss their mutual desire to be together.
- During this time couples should try to regain intimacy and comfort in romantic moments, which can make it easier to approach the physical challenges together.
- Be positive and be patient, as little by little you work toward getting back to the sexual function you enjoyed before.
Couples who try to restore good sex as a couple, will have a great chance at resuming great sex again.
We can help
If you have had treatment for prostate cancer and your libido has taken a knock, we can help.
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