Prostate cancer therapy often leads to erectile dysfunction and this can be a big concern for men diagnosed with the disease. Jack was treated for prostate cancer in 2000 and has been managing erectile dysfunction since. He decided to share his experiences, in the hope that other men can learn that it’s a condition, unlike prostate cancer, which you can live with.
“I was expecting sexual changes, because my doctors kept asking if they had occurred yet,” Jack said. “At every outpatient visit I had, they would ask me if I was still able to get an erection.”
However, it was not for some time after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer that the sexual changes occurred. The first thing he noticed was his libido reducing. “My sexual desire decreased considerably during the hormone treatment,” Jack said. “I just didn’t feel like having sex as much as I did before.”
Later, he noticed his ability to get an erection and have penetrative sex also reduced. Jack said, “I didn’t experience any changes before I started radiotherapy. That was 3 months after my radical prostatectomy operation. Even during the three months that I was taking hormone therapy to prepare for the operation, I didn’t have any problems with my sexual function.”
Jack said, “Even after I started radiotherapy, my sexual desires and experiences didn’t really change at first. I could still get a partial erection. Then I starting taking Viagra (sildenafil) as getting an erection became harder. It was the urologist in my cancer treatment team that suggested I give it a go. That worked for a while, but about six months later, the Viagra (sildenafil) wasn’t helping me.”
“The urologist recommended I try a different, stronger medication for erectile dysfunction called Cialis (tadalafil). It lasts for about 24 hours, whereas Viagra (sildenafil) only lasts for a short time. It helped a bit. I was able to get a reasonable erection using it, not a full erection like before, but it made a noticeable difference. It was only because of the expense I ceased using it. The medication was costing me $80 for 4 tablets and it just became too expensive to buy.”
Jack says that the sexual changes came along with emotional challenges, Jack said these were relatively easy to deal with.
“Initially, the most difficult change was no more physical sex but I realised sex wasn’t everything but could still pleasure my partner,” he said. “You do not need to have penetration to enjoy sex. Massage, touch and feel is another way to give your partner pleasure.”
“We talked about it and that helped. This was not long after my 7 weeks of radiotherapy and I just brought it up in a general conversation we were having regarding my health and what may happen in the future. Having already discussed the sexual issues with my partner meant that we were both prepared for when the day came for no more sexual penetration. This happened after I had been taking hormone tablets for a while as it does decrease your sexual appetite.
“Even though it was a big change at first, emotionally I was fine. At the time I was taking Cialis (tadalafil) I was having sex probably once a fortnight. Again, this was not a problem with my partner as sex has never been a be all and end all for us.
“Then, I just took it for granted no more sex. After being on hormone medication for some years now sex is just something my partner and I talk and joke about. We focus on friendship and happiness and doing things together, which we already did before I had sexual issues.
“Also, the mild bladder incontinence that came with it. I wear a pad during the day as when I need to go to the toilet I have to go.”
Jack said that sex definitely changes after prostate cancer, but it’s not such a big deal in the long run. “It has been some years now since having sex and to be honest I do not miss it. I know that is a strange thing to say but it is true. There are more important things in a relationship other than just sex.”
“The practical advice I would give to other men is don’t be afraid to discuss prostate cancer and the sexual changes that may occur with your partner and your male friends,” Jack said. Don’t let worries about not being able to have sex get in the way of being tested for prostate cancer.
“Go on the Internet and read up about it as much as you can. This is what I did and it gave me a really great insight to all procedures of what may or may not happen. Finally, speak to your GP and GET TESTED. It doesn’t hurt and it only takes about a minute. It is better to be safe than sorry. One minute of your life, MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE!”
|To learn more about how other men are dealing with this disease, visit Aussie men share their prostate cancer experiences.
|Read more about Prostate cancer.
|Learn more about Erectile dysfunction.