- 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
Finding professional help for sexual problems during and after cancer treatment
The first step in finding help for a sexual problem is to talk to your doctor. If your cancer specialist can’t help you, ask your family doctor or another member of your health care team. They should be able to suggest a counselor who’s an expert in sexual problems.
Sex therapy is a brief type of counseling with a focus on solving sex problems. Sex therapists believe that sexual skills are learned. You may need to drop old approaches and learn new ones. Between visits, a sex therapist may give you homework to help you feel closer to your partner and enjoy touching more.
Sex therapists may practice in a clinic or alone. Because most states have no laws about the title of “sex therapist,” people with no training can call themselves sex therapists. Be sure your sex therapist is a licensed mental health professional (psychiatrist, social worker, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, or psychologist) with special training in sex therapy. It’s not always easy to find a well-trained sex therapist. It’s OK to ask what education and license they have before you make an appointment.
A professional society, such as the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), can give you information about their members who have special training in sex therapy. You can also get a listing of professionals in your area by contacting your state’s psychological association, a chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), or a state association for licensed marriage and family therapists. (See the “To learn more about other topics related to sex and cancer” section for contact information.)
What to avoid
Men and women often try to get help for a sex problem by going to someone who is not a health professional. Sexual problems are so upsetting that people will try all kinds of things. Although there’s no evidence that any of the following can cure a sexual problem, they are often said to be cures: potency pills (such as “poppers” or “Spanish fly”), oysters, hypnotism by someone not trained as a mental health professional, or visits to a “sexual surrogate.”
Herbs and supplements: Many herbs or supplements are sold over the counter as “natural” cures for erection problems. But they have not been proven to help men have erections. And many have been found to contain things other than what’s listed on their labels. A worse problem is that some supplements contain prescription drugs that are very much like Viagra. As these are found by the FDA, the pills are recalled, but often after many men have taken them. These pills can be very risky because the man doesn’t know what he’s getting.
There are many more unproven remedies. These treatments have not been shown to work, and many can be harmful. Be sure to talk to your doctor about anything you want to try before you spend any time or money on it.
Other kinds of counseling
Sex therapy is not the only kind of counseling that can help a person with cancer. A therapist can
- Help you feel better about the changes in your body
- Make it easier for you and your partner to talk about difficult subjects
- Give you skills to better cope with the cancer
Finding a well-qualified mental health professional is important. Ask your doctor or your cancer team for names. The cost of counseling varies with the professional’s training. Before you start, you might want to call your health insurance plan to see what they will cover.
A man with sexual problems may choose to see a urologist first. This is a medical doctor trained in diseases of the male genitals. Many urologists do surgery and offer medical treatments for erection problems.
When the most likely cause of a sexual problem is a change in your hormones, you may need to see a doctor called an endocrinologist. Usually your regular doctor or urologist can help you decide if an endocrinologist is needed.
Last Medical Review: 05/16/2013
Last Revised: 06/12/2013