Sexuality for the Man With Cancer

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The psychological effects of cancer treatment on erections

Many men report disappointment, fear, and distress when they have difficulty with erections. They report that they don’t feel “like a man” and that something important is missing. Men may report a general unhappiness with life and depression when they have problems with erections. These feelings are a natural part of coping with erection problems. And most men, if they are able find effective treatments to help with their erections, will start to feel better. If these feelings are severe or persist, most men find it very helpful to see a mental health professional who specializes in sexual issues or a psychiatrist who can help address these feelings.

Worries about self-image and performance can sometimes lead to erection problems, too. Instead of letting go and feeling excited, a man may focus on whether he will be able to function – his fear of failure can make it happen. He may blame the resulting problem on his medical condition, even though he might be able to have an erection if he were able to relax.

A therapist who specializes in helping patients with sexual issues often assists in the treatment of erection problems caused by anxiety and stress. Any treatment for an erection problem should be based on the results of a thorough exam, which should include both medical questions (history) and certain medical tests. (See the “Professional help” section for more information.)

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