Prostate cancer treatment has evolved tremendously over the last two decades. Despite the plethora of treatment ranging from robotic radical surgery to cryotherapy and brachytherapy, all the interventions will have some degree of impact on sexual functions in affected men.
These depend on the extent of the cancer and the type of intervention, including the inevitable dry orgasm to complete impotency.
The anatomical location of the gland is closely adhered to the key nerve and blood supply that is necessary for erection. The radiotherapy intervention or operative removal of prostate gland can adversely affect the neurovascular bundles and render individuals impotent.
The complete removal of gland by surgical means will not just eliminate the ability to ejaculate, studies also reveal the contraction after the operation may shorten the length of the penis. For some men who require adjuvant hormonal treatment, the suppression of the testosterone to enhance treatment efficacy is also known to dampen the libido of sexually active men.
Several strategies to help men regain normal performance between the sheets have been extensively evaluated. These include regular erection enhancing medications before and after the interventions, vacuum pumps to draw blood into the penile tissues regularly, shockwave therapy and state-of-the art penile implants.
All such therapies can allow penile rehabilitation before and after the operation, and can in turn help men to regain erection, sexual confidence and enjoy sex life again.
The American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou once said: “Bitterness is cancer – it eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of pleasure!”
Read more: Prostate cancer testing
The increase in prevalence of prostate cancer, especially in young and sexually active men, has undoubtedly struck fear in terms of their sexual health and function.
Open communication with the partners and healthcare providers is often the key to understanding the likelihood of sexual dysfunction after the cancer treatment, and making the necessary adjustment to sex and relationship. Letter to Dr. G