All About Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer is the most common type of cancer (after skin cancer) and the cause of the second most deaths of all cancers for males (following lung cancer). 1 in 7 men will get this type of cancer, and 1 in 36 will die from it. These numbers are quite staggering. So what, exactly, is Prostate Cancer? Prostate Cancer forms in the tissues of the male prostate gland. The Prostate gland is a walnut shaped gland in the male reproductive system that is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Often a tumor will grow within the prostate and press on the urinary and rectal tracts. It is not “ass cancer” as some people seem to think, but, diagnosis is often done during a routine rectal exam - sometimes before symptoms are even present.
There are many different treatment options, depending on the stage of the cancer and the size of the tumor. Radiation, chemotherapy, surgical removal and hormone therapies are the most common treatments. Oftentimes the treatments for Prostate Cancer can have some unwanted sexual side effects – namely, diminishing or loss of erectile function or libido. Hormone therapies and surgeries, especially, can be libido killers and cause erectile dysfunction (ED). Depending on tumor size, and the amount of nerves that may be damaged, impotence is also possible. So, not only does the man suffer through and survive cancer, but his sex life may also be drastically affected – something that can be extremely hard on a relationship.
So, what can you do? What do you do when you or your loved one has survived Prostate Cancer and now is suffering loss of libido, erectile dysfunction or impotence? Does this mean your sex life is over? DEFINITELY NOT! Read on to discover things that you can do to continue having a satisfying sex life with your lover!
NOTE: The most important thing to do is to always discuss sex or erectile issues with your doctor. He or she may be able to offer you medicinal or hormone help that may greatly assist you with libido loss or erectile issues.
The very first thing that you have to do as the cancer survivor, or as a loved one, is to UNDERSTAND that you just went through an emotional and stressful time! You (or your partner) had CANCER! It is scary, to say the very least. Your whole world has been turned into diagnoses, treatments, surgery, radiation, therapies – and now you are feeling like life will go on, but maybe your erection won’t. Give yourself some time to process and adjust. Be understanding about your partner’s situation and be supportive of his need to take some time to relax after this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself some time to just be thankful to have beaten the cancer.
DON’T AVOID THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Some men will feel a drastic reduction in their libido. Sometimes this is due to just the nature of the placement of the cancer, or, a body image issue post surgery. Others are suffering from medicinal or hormonal side effects. Whatever the cause, “pretending” to be interested in sex when you really aren’t, or avoiding sex and sexual situations, doesn’t do anyone any good and can oftentimes confuse your partner. The best attack in this situation is to talk to not only your doctor but also your lover. Let your lover know that it is not her (or him), instead, it is something you are dealing with. Then, speak with your doctor regarding your feelings and discuss counteracting the loss of libido with some medications. Ignoring the issue won’t make it disappear. Also, as a partner of a cancer survivor, you should be loving and patient while you negotiate this new part of your life. Since depression is often another side effect of these treatments, along with a loss of sexual desire, communication can be extremely important, and healing, for you and your partner.
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THE AROUSAL CIRCLE
If your sexual issue is mainly a lack of libido or frequent, but not constant, erectile dysfunction then something that may be extremely helpful is to allow HER arousal to aid in yours. So many men with these issues avoid sex all together for fear of “winding her up and not being able to finish.” Well, while this fear is legitimate, it does more harm than good. Worrying about how your penis is going to perform doesn’t help, and is likely to affect your ED even more. The psyche is a powerful thing! So, what do you do? First, you enjoy your partner! You caress, kiss, touch, finger, masturbate, and give her oral sex. Please her and her pleasure may fuel your desire! There is nothing more exciting than seeing HER aroused, right? Yup. So, stop avoiding and start enjoying her. You may be surprised at how your little guy responds! If he doesn’t respond, at least you have shared in an intimate experience.
PENETRATIVE SEX IS NOT ALL THERE IS
So many men think that foreplay doesn’t count and that only penetrative sex (penis entering vagina) is the only “real” sex. This is so far from the truth! Women love ALL KINDS of sex – all of foreplay – the kissing, hugging, touching, fingering, oral sex. For us (and for men too) all of this is extremely intimate and can be extremely satisfying on its own! While it is understandable that you, as the man, would miss penetrative sex and miss that stimulation for yourself and your partner – it is important to know that you can still stimulate and pleasure your partner even without the help of your penis! So, if you are suffering from severe ED or impotence, consider all the ways you can pleasure your partner with all the other parts of your body! Pleasuring each other doesn’t have to be sex only – in fact, it can be more intimate when it is a whole body experience! While it is normal to mourn the normal function of your penis and erection, if you love your partner then there are so many other ways to bring her pleasure and maintain that intimacy!
EMPLOY A STUNT DOUBLE
NO, I do NOT mean get another man to stand in for you – I am talking about SEX TOYS! Many men feel like they are neglecting their partner’s penetrative needs when they can no longer offer penetrative sex. So, why not get yourself a nice little stand in! You and she can shop together, checking out all the options. Maybe you want a lifelike dildo, a glass toy, or something with all the bells and whistles like a rabbit vibrator! I know that it may seem a bit depressing that you are using a toy because you can no longer offer her penetrative sex – but this is a great way to pleasure her, stay connected, still have intimacy – and have fun! The most important thing to remember is to be an active participant. Don’t just send her into the bedroom with the toy – join her! Help her. Continue that intimate connection, because that is what is most important.
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FAKE IT SO YOU CAN MAKE IT
So, one step further than the idea of a sex toy is to get a sex toy that replicates, to the best of its ability, your actual, working penis! There is a wonderful new invention called the Hollow Strap On which allows a man to place his flaccid (or semi-erect) penis into it (like a sleeve) and strap it on in the exact position of his own penis. Then, he can pleasure his partner with the same motions as with his own penis. This allows the couple to connect intimately, just like in a natural sexual situation. You can make love to her in the same ways you would when your penis wasn’t being difficult! These strap ons were made specifically for men who have become impotent or have severe ED because men KNOW that they miss the intimate connection with their partners!
Probably the most important thing to note is that there is no need to give up on having a sexual relationship with your lover. Sure, it may be different than it was pre-cancer, but if she (or he) cares and loves you, has stuck by you, and continues to be a loving presence in your life then they are going to understand the importance of changing the tone of intimacy. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, or worry too much about your loss of libido or erection – find new ways to connect with your partner. Enjoy spending time together, hold hands, cuddle, kiss like teenagers and enjoy each other! Sex is wonderful, and yes, you will miss it – but SHE is still there to love and be loved and that is the greatest gift in and of itself!
Mikayla’s Note: While I am not a man and have not personally known anyone who has gone through Prostate Cancer, I can say that if someone whom I loved survived this disease and was then unable to perform sexually via an erection I would be disappointed, yes, but I would make every effort to continue our intimate relationship in any other way we could. I know that sex is only a small part of a fulfilling relationship and I would want to support and love my partner in any way I could, including being understanding that our sex life would have to change. Ultimately, I believe that my view is shared by most women.
***Information for this article was gathered from various medical sources.