Q. I have just had a surgery for prostate cancer. When will I be able to be sexually active? Is there anything I should do and how do I explain things to my partner?
The first step is to talk to your urologist about your concerns. The most common problem following surgery for prostate cancer is erectile dysfunction (ED), or the inability to achieve an erection. ED does not affect your ability to reach orgasm, which is a separate but related process. You should begin to be intimate with your partner when your urologist feels you are appropriately healed. You and your partner’s ability to find other ways to be intimate that do not require an erection can help you on your road to recovery. In the meantime, you can ask to be referred to an urologist who specializes in ED. Some physicians have their patients use an ED medication to help in the recovery process.
Many partners need reassurance that the person with cancer still has an interest in being intimate, and vice versa. Interest is not only about physical attraction but in how you both feel and think about your relationship together. Your partner may be concerned that expressing a wish to be intimate again will be a source of stress and upset for both of you. Being open about these concerns is the best way to examine and explore these feelings together. Talking to other men who have similar concerns may also be helpful. Here are resources to find support group:
- CancerCare offers support groups for men coping with cancer.
- The American Cancer Society offers a supportive program, Man-to-Man for men who have prostate cancer.
- Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network has chapters and support groups.
You can find a counselor who specializes in intimacy issues, by contacting the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.