Sex and Men With Cancer: Overview

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Hormone treatment and sex

Treatment for prostate cancer may include changing a man’s hormone balance. This is called hormone treatment or hormone therapy. It starves the cancer cells of testosterone, which helps slow the cancer’s growth. It can be done by:

  • Using drugs to keep the man from making testosterone
  • Using drugs that block the body from using testosterone
  • Removing a man’s testicles

The effects of these treatments are a lot alike because they all block testosterone. But some men would rather have drug treatment to block testosterone, because they can keep their testicles. If you and your doctor decide to remove the testicles, see “Loss of one or both testicles” in the section called “Dealing with sexual problems.”

A common problem with hormone treatment is less desire for sex. Hormone treatment may also cause changes in how you look. It can make you lose muscle, gain weight, or grow breast tissue. Talk to your doctor about side effects before you start hormone therapy. There are ways to prevent or limit some of them. And an exercise plan may help you limit muscle loss, weight gain, and tiredness. Talk with your doctor about any exercise before you start. Or ask to be referred to a physical therapist, who can help you decide where to start and what to do.

Last Medical Review: 08/28/2014
Last Revised: 09/23/2014