What can happen?
The prostate is a small walnut-sized gland that is located between the bladder and the penis. Its main function is to secrete the fluid known as semen that nourishes and protects sperm. Because the urethra runs through the middle of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, it also allows urine to flow out of the body. One of the first signs that there may a prostate problem is a difficulty to pass urine.
The treatment for prostate cancer can include surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy, all of which may have sexual side effects. These may include erectile problems, difficulty having an orgasm, as well as fertility issues.
How the treatment may affect libido
- Just knowing that you have prostate cancer, anxiety and stress can send your libido crashing down.
- Hormone treatment for prostate cancer can also wipe out libido. Prostate cancer feeds on testosterone, and the hormone treatment used to lower testosterone levels in your body, has a definite negative effect on libido.
- The hormonal treatment used includes estrogen, which may lead to enlarged breast tissue and weight gain. Self-esteem issues with body shape may also arise to add to the mix.
Depending on your overall cancer treatment plan, the doctor may be able to initiate testosterone replacement to bring the levels back to normal.
What about the sex organs?
According to studies, some men have reported that the penis is slightly smaller after prostate cancer treatment. However, men who experienced the decrease in size, say it was usually not more than half an inch. The possible penis tissue shrinkage, is mainly due to nerve and blood vessel damage.
Some of the men said that the smaller penis affected their relationships and satisfaction in life. There is a school of thought that this might be a psychological reaction which can handled.
Will the treatment result in erectile dysfunction (ED)?
In the past, radiation or radical removal of the prostate gland, carried a high risk of permanent ED, as a result of possible damage to the nerves and blood vessels of the sexual area. Today, surgeons are able to perform nerve-sparing surgical procedures, and even if they touch the nerves, may only cause a temporary side effect of ED issues.
Radiation can also damage nerves and blood vessels, and men who have this treatment, will also suffer from ED, which can improve over time.
However, there is a new treatment available whereby a radioactive “bullet” is inserted into the diseased gland, which does not damage surrounding nerves or blood vessels. Radical removal of the prostate may in many instances be avoided.
What about fertility?
Prostate surgery can affect your ability to father children, as you will no longer produce semen, the fluid which is added to the sperm before you ejaculate. This results in what is known as a dry orgasm. Without semen there will be no sperm.
Radiation therapy has a less drastic effect, but the amount of fluid to carry the sperm may be reduced. Although you would still be able to father a child, it will be more difficult for your partner to fall pregnant.
The positive side
Sexual side effects from prostate cancer treatment are very often temporary. Get you partner involved in the recovery, as these issues affect both of you, and it always helps to share.
If you are having any sexual hassles after treatment, visit your doctor for advice, and although it may be difficult to talk about sex, you will get all the help you need.
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