PatientPrint this page
You and your doctor have likely discussed how sexual functioning can be adversely affected by advanced prostate cancer. For many people, discussing sexual functioning and related intimacy issues – whether with a partner or a physician – can feel uncomfortable. As a man, your sexuality may be strongly tied to your sense of masculinity, and the thought of not having full sexual feeling or ability can lead to a sense of anger, loneliness or even depression.
The Path to Communication
Studies of the impact of prostate cancer on the sexual life and emotional issues of couples have identified factors that can have a significant effect on the relationship. For instance, the level and depth of communication between a man with prostate cancer and his partner can have a strong effect on their sex life; allowing each person to talk about how they feel and brainstorming ways to enhance your sex life together may lead to increased sexual satisfaction. In fact, sometimes couples find a new path to sexual satisfaction that is different than it was previously, but may turn out to be just as good or even better.
Try to keep in mind that even if it is more difficult to achieve and sustain sexual functioning, you are still a sexual being. Sexuality includes making your partner feel good in ways that may include, but also go beyond penile penetration. For many women, hugging and cuddling are as much a part of intimacy as sexual acts. Intimacy also includes giving your sexual partner permission to explore alternate ways to make you feel good.
Try to be open to the advice or education materials your healthcare provider offers. Some of it may work and some may not, but trial and error may lead to solutions that work for you and your partner. Talk to your healthcare team about your concerns in the area of sexual intimacy.
While navigating the road of intimacy with advanced prostate cancer, please also remember to brake – and give yourself a break. You are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, deciding on or undergoing treatment, and still doing your best to carry on with your daily activities. You can assume that if you have a partner, they are also struggling with intimacy issues, and are likely very concerned about how to make you feel better while coping with their own feelings and issues. Letting your partner take the wheel with you may lead to a more intimate life together.