Sexuality for the Man With Cancer

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Good communication: The key to building a successful sexual relationship

The most important part in keeping a healthy sexual relationship with a partner is good communication. Men often react to cancer by withdrawing. They think their partner will feel burdened if they share their fears or sadness. But when you try to protect each other, each suffers in silence. No couple gets through cancer diagnosis and treatment without some anxiety and grief. Why not discuss those fears with one another so that you shoulder the load together rather than alone?

Sexual sharing is one way for a couple to feel close during the stress of an illness. But if your partner has been depressed and distant, you may fear that a sexual advance might come across as a demand. You can bring up the topic of sex in a healthy, assertive way. It’s usually not helpful to accuse (“You never touch me anymore!”) or demand (“We have to have sex soon. I can’t stand the frustration!”). Instead, try to state your feelings positively (“I really miss our sex life. Let’s talk about what’s getting in the way of our being close.”).

Last Medical Review: 08/19/2013
Last Revised: 08/19/2013