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Suggestions for Resuming Sex After Prostate Cancer

I have always adored the answer to the question, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" And the answer is PRACTICE.

Not only have I treated many men following a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but I recently underwent a hysterectomy. This turned my sex life upside down, much as treatment for prostate cancer will do for men. While having my uterus removed was not a fun party, it was illuminating in the aspect that I was able to understand what my patients were going through. I was able to employ the same techniques that I have been advising for years.

Reducing the anxiety

It can be very daunting to think about sex after surgery or radiation to one’s pelvic floor. The anxiety and fear are very real, and it is all too easy to want to shove the notion of sex into the back corner of one’s mind.

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One of the first steps can be to start very slowly and to initiate sex alone. Only you know your body and what gets you going. I think this can help to remove anxiety about pleasing your partner while returning to sex for the first few times post-treatment.

It's not all about climaxing

Take the focus away from climax. The process of arousal and blood filling the pelvic floor requires a nicely working parasympathetic nervous system. Your parasympathetic system is the opposite of your "fight or flight" response. When we are unduly stressed about our lives, it can be hard to get aroused.1

Everyone can recall a time when sex wasn’t great due to external stressors. The arousal process requires us to slow down, calm down, and enjoy the ride without worrying about the destination. This becomes even more essential once we have had a major event in the pelvis, like surgery or radiation. If we are focused only on climax and attempt to skip the slow build-up of arousal, the body may respond by putting up a stop sign to sex.

Improved arousal

Lower your bar on rigidity of erections. Whether you have prostate cancer or not, rock-hard erections will likely not be the same during the aging process. This is normal and fine!

I think it is helpful to tease the penis with lubricant, rub it along the perineum of your partner, and play around with what works for you. When sex is perceived as fun, this can help tap into the parasympathetic nervous system and facilitate improved arousal.1

Consistent practice

As with anything else that we want to improve in our lives, I think it's important to practice consistently. Like a gym workout, having sex can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. And we as humans go to the gym to get stronger.

I think scheduling sex can do wonders for some people because it prevents the "I’ll do it tomorrow" excuse, where we defer an activity until we stop doing it altogether. Having a sex schedule may help keep the body fine-tuned and maintained. Would you skip oil changes on your beloved Camaro? I think not. Consider your sex life as one of your treasured possessions, and give it the time and attention it deserves.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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