Sex and Men With Cancer: Overview

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Keeping your sex life going despite cancer treatment

Be sure to ask your doctor or nurse these questions about having sex during and after treatment.

When will it be OK to have sex?

    Are there any types of sex I should avoid?

    What safety measures do I need to take, and for how long?

    What birth control should I use? For how long?

    How might treatment affect my sex life?

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Learn as much as you can about how your cancer treatment could affect your sex life.

The first thing to do is talk with someone on your health care team about sex. You already may have asked about going back to work, eating, or side effects. You have just as much right to know the facts about sex. When you know what to expect, you can plan how you might handle any problems that come up.

No matter what kind of treatment you get, you’ll still able to feel pleasure from touching.

Few cancer treatments damage the nerves and muscles that help you feel pleasure from touch or having an orgasm. You might have to change the way it happens, but you still should be able to feel good and be satisfied.

Try to keep an open mind about ways to feel sexual pleasure.

Some couples have a narrow view of what normal sex is. If both partners can’t reach orgasm the way they always have, they feel cheated. But during cancer treatment, there might be times when that kind of sex is not possible. Don’t give up just because your usual routine has been changed.

Try to have clear, 2-way talks about sex with your partner.

Talking to each other about what’s going on is the key. Tell your partner what you learn from your doctor. If you feel weak or tired and want your partner to take a more active role in touching you, say so. If some part of your body is tender or sore, guide your partner’s touches to avoid pain. Keep in mind that if one person has a sex problem, it affects both of you.

Feel good about yourself.

Remind yourself about your good qualities. If you lose your hair, you might look and feel better if you shave your head with an electric razor. Or try out different kinds of hats to find one you like. Or wear nothing on your head if that works for you. Eating right and getting exercise can help keep your body strong and your spirits up. Don’t forget to take time to relax, too – try movies, hobbies, or getting outdoors. Do what makes you feel good about yourself. Talk with your cancer team if you think you are depressed or struggling, or if worry is causing problems.

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