Many men facing a diagnosis of prostate cancer are worried about how to have sex after prostate cancer treatment. Surgery and other treatments for prostate cancer can have various adverse effects on a man's sex life and ability to perform, but consulting honestly with your doctor, knowing what to expect, and maintaining open communication with your partner can help keep your sex life satisfactory and on track even if you suffer from side effects after prostate cancer treatment.
A variety of changes in sexual response and performance are likely after prostate cancer, including:
- Erectile dysfunction of varying degrees
- Decrease in size of the penis
- "Dry" orgasms
- Need for assistance in achieving an erection, such as a pump, Viagra, or a prosthetic implant
The occurrence and severity of these issues depends largely upon factors such as your age, the quality of your erections before surgery, and the type of surgery performed. However, the following steps and approaches will help anyone experience a more fulfilling sex life after prostate surgery.
- Consult closely with your doctor. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions, both before and after surgery, about what your response is likely to be to the surgery and what side effects you can expect to experience. Let the doctor know if you have problems with sexual response after full healing has taken place. The doctor can prescribe medications or other help to improve your overall sexual function.
- Give yourself time. Surgery is traumatic to the body, and you will need time to recovery. Don't expect to be "back in the saddle" right away. In addition to allowing the healing process to complete, you might need time to adjust to changes in sexual sensation, such as the absence of ejaculate. After your prostate is removed, you will no longer produce semen during your orgasm, as the prostate provides much of the fluid that you would normally produce.
- Be honest with your partner. Explain your feelings and how sensations have changed. Your partner might just help you come up with new ways to be intimate that are just as satisfying as activities you've enjoyed in the past. Bear in mind that your partner is probably concerned about changes in your relationship, as well.
- Rely more on foreplay and less on penetration. Many men think of penetration as the ultimate and even only important part of the sexual act. After prostate surgery, penetration might be more difficult to achieve and might not bring the same satisfaction it did before. Focusing more on other types of intimacy, including foreplay, non-penetrative contact, and helping your partner achieve orgasm, will help you and your partner have a satisfying sexual experience even given the changes made necessary by your prostate surgery.