Cancer and Sexuality and Men

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

MARCH 23, 2017

In keeping this series going a little longer, today's offering is the parallel Cancer Net article re men's issues. We all know that there are many biological and psychological differences between the sexes, and this speaks clearly and helpfully to problems faced by some men who have undergone cancer treatment.

Men's issues are usually harder to disguise. For better or for worse, women can fake it (never recommended) or at least participate in intimacy without strong desire or responses. Men, of course, can be close in many ways, but most feel pretty strongly that intercourse is the desired goal, and that can be tough.

Here is the start of this excellent summary and a link to read more:

Sexuality and Cancer Treatment: Men

Many men experience physical and emotional changes during and after cancer treatment. These changes can affect their desire and ability to have sex.

It is important to speak openly with your clinical team about any sexuality and intimacy concerns, even before treatment starts. Several strategies can help you and your partner or spouse cope with them.

Sexual problems

Even treatments that do not directly affect your reproductive organs can have affect your sexual health. For example, treatment can change your mood, energy levels, and overall sense of well-being. Sexual problems men can experience from treatment include:

  • Decrease or loss of sexual desire

  • Not being able to get or maintain an erection, called erectile dysfunction

  • Ejaculation and orgasm problems, including premature ejaculation, urinating during ejaculation, and not releasing semen during orgasm, called dry ejaculation

  • Pain during sex

For some men, changes in sexual function were present before or at the time of their cancer diagnosis. It is also common for sexual issues to develop during treatment, soon after treatment, or years later. Talk with your doctor about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Treatments that cause sexual problems

Treatment for cancers of the pelvic area often cause sexual problems. Common pelvic cancers in men include prostate cancer, rectal cancer, bladder cancer, and colon cancer.

Older men are more likely to experience these problems after treatment. Also, men who had sexual issues before treatment are more likely to have problems afterwards.

Sexual side effects often depend on location of the cancer and treatment dose. Your doctor can explain typical reactions to specific cancer treatments. Treatments that can cause issues include:

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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