Role of Your Partner in Sexual Health

Last updated: October 2022

The role of the partner is extremely important when one is dealing with prostate cancer. In many cases, the partner is going through various stages of their partner’s new diagnosis, pre-treatment, surgery, and post-treatment life. What can the partner do to help? What emotions are the partners going through? What will their sex life look like? Let’s look at a few of these issues.

First, let’s take a step back. The initial diagnosis of prostate cancer is tough enough. Many men begin thinking about their own mortality and death: What is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to my family?

What about your partner?

These are all relevant questions, but here I would like to switch it up a bit. What about the partner? What about the person who has been there through thick and thin? Since I prefer to write about sex, I would like to ask the question, What about the sex life of the partner?

I think it may change from what it was in the past. But with help, I believe you can have a healthy sex life.

Your responsibility to your partner

As I was discussing this issue with a colleague, she felt that men in recovery should take some responsibility in addressing the partner’s needs. She felt the men should make a good-faith effort to be aware of their partners' emotional well-being because this is an intimate partnership. And it is a journey to good health for all.

She concluded by saying it is a good idea for both people in the relationship to "check in" with each other on a regular basis. Everything she mentioned makes sense to me.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, if your partner remained in the relationship through your initial diagnosis, stayed through surgery, and is still there during recovery, their emotional investment in the relationship is solid. But your partner needs treatment and support services as well. They also need someone to talk to about the changes occurring in their relationship, including their sexual relationship.

Therapy

I believe it is helpful for couples to start sexual therapy with a therapist who specializes in cancer recovery, specifically related to prostate cancer.

For partners who are unsure about therapy, I would suggest going to a support group for partners. Many hospitals offer groups to educate partners on what to expect during treatment and life after prostate cancer.

What I do not know is how many hospitals or treatment centers offer sexual health education for the partners of cancer survivors. That’s an interesting idea, right? I truly believe the couple should remain sexually active after prostate cancer diagnosis, surgery, and treatments. The question is, What will the couple’s sex life look like?

The couple has to decide for themselves what that will look like and go from there. Educating the couple, including the partner, about options is key for the couple to recreate a sexually healthy relationship.

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