Effects of Cancer on a Man’s Sexual Health

Cancers of prostate, bronchus, and lung are common among men. The good news is that survival rates have increased in the past few years. However, this good news comes with certain adjustments. This can be a real challenge for sexual relationships. Many male cancer patients and survivors are said to face sexual dysfunction which may be short term. In some cases, these may last for years.
Short Term Effects

The following sexual issues may develop immediately after treatment:

– Reduced sexual interest
– Pain
– Relationship problems
– Fatigue and trouble moving
– An inability to resume sexual activity
– Depression and anxiety

Long Term Effects

The following issues may develop over months or years:

– Ejaculatory disorders
– Erectile dysfunction
– Low sexual desire
– Poor body image
– Incontinence
– Depression
– Relationship issues
– Infertility
– Sexual pain
– Fatigue

The Causes

Problems may result from the condition or treatment. Listed below are some considerations:
Location of Cancer and Extent

Cancer affecting a man’s genitals and its spreading to other parts of the body may result in sexual dysfunction.

Types of Therapy

Man’s body can be affected by radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone in different ways. Surgery affects ejaculation and urinary function. On the other hand, hormone therapy may dampen libido. Chemotherapy leaves one exhausted.


Sexual problems are more prominent in older men. For instance, risk for erectile dysfunction increases with age.

Sexual Function Prior to the Treatment

Healthy sexual function prior to treatment has more chances of it being preserved even after treatment.
How to Cope?

Some of the sexual challenges may seem overwhelming. However, there are ways to cope. Here’s what you can

Talk to Team

Speak to your cancer team and update your healthcare providers on a regular basis. The team will offer solutions customized for your condition and concerns. Medication for erectile dysfunction can also be offered. Special counseling for anxiety is given to patients.

Talk to your Partner

Why bottle up the feelings inside when you can share with your partner? Let her know you miss the kind of intimacy you once shared. Let her know what she can do for you.

Get Help

Hire a help for household chores or ask a friend or family to do so. Look for somebody who can take care of your child, shopping, and other routine tasks.

Support Group

Join a support group. Speaking to people online or in-person who have gone through the same phase helps. Let them share with some tips, information, and experience with you.

Healthy Lifestyle

It always helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Let your doctor tell you how to stay active. Also follow a healthy diet.

Meet Friends

This is important. Start socializing and meeting friends. It takes mind off things. Visit malls, hop, watch movies and eat out together.

Sexual Therapist

Meet a therapist specializes and discuss your problems with him/her.

The following cancer treatments have the following effects on men:

Partial or Total Penectomy for Treatment of Penis Cancer

The treatment involves removal of a part or the entire penis. Erection can be experienced after partial penectomy. Ejaculations and orgasms continue. However, total penectomy leads to semen flowing out of new opening on the region behind the testicles.

Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

This and intensive chemotherapy, removal of testicles, and radiation near testicles result in lower testosterone levels, problem feeling excited while having sex, and loss of sexual desire. These treatments may also lead to erectile dysfunction and trouble reaching an orgasm.
Pelvic Surgery and Pelvic Radiation Therapy
The treatment can damage to flow of blood to the penis which results in trouble getting and keeping erections.

Radical Prostatectomy

Men undergoing radical prostatectomy, abdomino-perineal resection, and radical cystectomy may damage supply of blood to nerves. The patient may suffer from toxic side effect of chemotherapy, problems getting erections and maintaining erection, and significant damage to nerves near prostate.
Treatment for Testicular Cancer and Surgery on Colon Parts

Removal of lymph nodes to treat testicular cancer can lead too damage to nerves controlling semen outflow during orgasm. Patient may suffer from “dry orgasm” which gives a feeling of pleasure but do not
facilitate flow of semen from penis.

Radiation Therapy for Cancers of Bladder, Prostate, or Rectal Cancer

The treatment involves radiation near the seminal and prostate vesicles. Men can experience “dry orgasm”. Orgasms may not feel similar to what they did prior to cancer.

Radical Prostatectomy and Cystectomy

The treatments involve removal of vesicles of prostate and semen. It results in “dry orgasm”, leakage of urine during orgasm. Also orgasm may not feel similar to what it felt prior to cancer.


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