Is There Sex After Prostate Cancer?
The two questions I can always count on in a support group with newly diagnosed men are:
- How soon am I going to die?
- Will I ever have sex again?
Let us presume for the next few minutes that most men and their partners are familiar with the expression "prostate cancer is a disease many men live with, and many die from something else." Once we get past the immediate fear of death and the initial shock of a prostate cancer diagnosis, we get to the topic of intimacy with a partner. Often it is more of a concern on the partner's part, rather than the patient's part.
When the initial fires of passion change
Prior to my wife’s sudden and unexpected passing in May 2022, we were married for almost 57 years. Somewhere along the line, the initial fires of passion we experienced in our early 20s were no longer our number-one priority.
We came to understand and realize that things like jobs, household chores, kids, planning for and paying for college and weddings, and taking care of cats, dogs, fish, financial planning, bill-paying and more also required a bit of attention. While the interest in adult fun smoldered in the background, not every trip to the bedroom resulted in a bonfire of sexual passion.
Then unexpectedly along came an aggressive prostate cancer diagnosis, which turned out to be a contained Gleason 9. The diagnosis was followed by surgery and the many challenges that come with recovery of pelvic muscle control.
How treatment affected my sex life
To assist with urine control and to increase blood flow, I was put on a protocol of low-dose Viagra. Within 2 weeks after the removal of the catheter and much to my surprise, I experienced my first spontaneous early-morning erection. While it was a wow experience, my wife’s many medical issues did not allow me to explore my newfound good fortune. After being on Viagra for 6 months and with no real need in sight, I discontinued the protocol, even though it was recommended I stay on the blue pills for at least 12 months.
Several years later my cancer returned. In response, I underwent a combination of radiation treatments, along with 14 months of hormone therapy. The combination protocols played havoc with my libido.
At the same time, not having been sexually active for an extended period opened my eyes to the importance of building a new kind of intimacy. Specifically, the absence of the pressure to perform in the bedroom allowed me to develop a deeper connection and understanding of my wife’s many needs.
Unexpected twists and turns
Life is often filled with twists and turns one never expects. One day it happened: without warning my wife passed suddenly at 8:35 a.m. on a bright Sunday morning. I can assure you that the last thing on my mind for months after her passing was sex. For the next year, I presumed I would be living the remainder of my life alone as a single widower.
Once again life decided to throw another curve ball, and I found myself falling in love again with a widow who lost her husband months prior to my wife passed.
While I was fascinated by my new relationship, I was quite concerned that I would not be able to rise to the occasion if the occasion did indeed present itself. Much to my surprise, my concerns were not a worry for me, nor my new companion. As we dated both of us soon discovered there was much more to building a deep and meaningful relationship than just sex.
Figuring out each other's needs
So, to answer the question: is there sex after prostate cancer? In my case I can say yes, but only if both partners are willing to be flexible, open to discovery, and willing to work as a team while supporting each other’s needs emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Hopefully you and your partner are doing well on your journey.
Do you have ways of managing your mindset for big decisions?