- Sex and Men With Cancer: Overview
- How a man’s body works
- Keeping your sex life going despite cancer treatment
- How cancer treatments affect your sex life
- Surgery and sex
- Radiation and sex
- Chemotherapy (chemo) and sex
- Hormone treatment and sex
- Mental and emotional effects of cancer treatment
- Fathering children and cancer treatment
- Dealing with sexual problems after cancer treatment
- The single man and cancer
- Frequently asked questions about sex and cancer
- Finding professional help for sexual problems during and after cancer treatment
- To learn more about other topics related to sex and cancer
How a man’s body works
During and after the teen years, the testicles make a steady supply of hormones, mostly testosterone. Testosterone helps promote sex drive and erections. The testicles also make millions of sperm each day.
An erection begins when the brain sends a signal down the spinal cord and through the nerves that sweep down into the pelvis. When this signal is received, the spongy tissue inside the penis relaxes and the blood vessels that carry blood into the penis expand. Blood fills 2 spongy tubes of tissue inside the penis to make it stiff.
The nerves that allow a man to feel pleasure when the penis is touched run in a different path from the nerves that control blood flow and produce an erection. A third set of nerves, which run higher up in a man’s body, controls ejaculation of semen.
A man’s orgasm has 2 stages:
Stage 1: Emission. The sperm move from the testicles into the body and mix with fluids.
Stage 2: Ejaculation. The mixture of fluid and sperm (semen) comes out of the penis.
Ejaculation is controlled by the same nerves that carry pleasure signals when the penis is touched. These nerves cause the muscles around the base of the penis to squeeze in rhythm. This pushes the semen out of the penis. At the same time, messages of pleasure are sent to the man’s brain.
Last Medical Review: 08/28/2014
Last Revised: 09/23/2014