How cancer treatments can affect sexuality and fertility

Chemotherapy

  • Sometimes causes low sexual desire
  • Rarely causes erection problems
  • Rarely causes no orgasm
  • Rarely causes dry orgasm
  • Rarely causes weaker orgasm
  • Often causes infertility

Pelvic radiation therapy

  • Rarely causes low sexual desire
  • Sometimes causes erection problems
  • Rarely causes no orgasm
  • Rarely causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Often causes infertility

Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection

  • Rarely causes low sexual desire
  • Rarely causes erection problems
  • Rarely causes no orgasm
  • Often causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Often causes infertility

Abdominoperineal (AP) resection

  • Rarely causes low sexual desire
  • Often causes erection problems
  • Rarely causes no orgasm
  • Often causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Sometimes causes infertility*

Radical prostatectomy

  • Rarely causes low sexual desire
  • Often causes erection problems
  • Rarely causes no orgasm
  • Always causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Always causes infertility

Total pelvic exenteration

  • Never causes low sexual desire
  • Often causes erection problems
  • Rarely causes no orgasm
  • Always causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Always causes infertility

Partial penectomy

  • Rarely causes low sexual desire
  • Rarely causes erection problems
  • Rarely causes no orgasm
  • Never causes dry orgasm
  • Rarely causes weaker orgasm
  • Never causes infertility

Total penectomy

  • Rarely causes low sexual desire
  • Always causes erection problems
  • Sometimes causes no orgasm
  • Never causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Usually causes infertility*

Orchiectomy (removal of one testicle)   

  • Rarely causes low sexual desire
  • Rarely causes erection problems
  • Never causes no orgasm
  • Never causes dry orgasm
  • Never causes weaker orgasm
  • Rarely causes infertility**

Orchiectomy (removal of both testicles)   

  • Often causes low sexual desire
  • Often causes erection problems
  • Sometimes causes no orgasm
  • Sometimes causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Always causes infertility

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer   

  • Often causes low sexual desire
  • Often causes erection problems
  • Sometimes causes no orgasm
  • Sometimes causes dry orgasm
  • Sometimes causes weaker orgasm
  • Always causes infertility

*Artificial insemination of a woman with the man’s semen may be possible.

**Infertility happens only if the remaining testicle is not normal

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: August 19, 2013 Last Revised: August 19, 2013

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