Sex After Prostate Cancer: Managing the Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatment

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, effecting approximately one in nine during their lifetime. Prostate cancer treatment can lead to side effects that negatively impact your quality of life, particularly libido, erectile function, penis length and sperm count.

Prostate cancer and radiation therapy

Prostate cancer may be treated with different types of radiation therapy including brachytherapy, external beam radiation, or stereotactic body radiation therapy. Approximately 50 percent of men who undergo radiation therapy develop erectile dysfunction. Though the exact reason is unknown, radiation may damage the nerves located in the pelvic area, block blood flow to the penis, and decrease the level of testosterone in the body.

Prostate cancer and chemotherapy

In men, low testosterone is one of the most common hormonal issues resulting from chemotherapy. Though this type of treatment for prostate cancer does not directly cause erectile dysfunction, the hormonal fluctuations may lead to difficulty achieving an erection and negatively affect sexual desire.

Prostate cancer and hormone therapy

Often used in combination with radiation and other therapies, hormone therapy for prostate cancer deprives cancer cells of the male hormones they need to survive. ADT, or androgen deprivation therapy, is an anti-hormone therapy that reduces hormone levels with drugs or surgery to prevent cancer cells from growing.
Although this treatment is effective at controlling prostate cancer growth, the loss of testosterone can lead to low sex drive.

Prostate cancer and surgery

Men who undergo prostate surgery are likely to live cancer free, however, nerves that control erections are extremely close to the prostate gland. This means surgeries that completely remove the prostate gland increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Rejuvenating your sex life after prostate cancer

Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery may impact your sex life, causing challenges like low libido, loss of penis length or low sperm counts. Most of these negative side effects can be managed through oral medications, penile injections, rings or implants, giving men a good chance of returning to a full sex life after prostate cancer treatment.

To learn more about the side effects of prostate cancer treatment as it relates to sexual intercourse, or to schedule an appointment, please call 708-342-1900.