Cancer therapy for guys: Attainable sexual aspect consequences

Obtain out if you are at danger of sexual aspect consequences after cancer therapy and which cancer treatment plans can trigger these aspect consequences.

By Mayo Clinic Staff members

Treatment for certain cancers can influence your sexuality, producing a range of indicators and signs or symptoms that can make sex with your companion much more complicated. But that doesn’t imply you are not able to have a healthful sex existence after cancer therapy.

Figuring out much more about your cancer therapy and how it might influence sexual operate can support you find a option if complications produce.

Pelvic cancers: Extra likely to trigger sexual dysfunction than are other cancers

Adult men with cancer in their pelvic spot are much more likely than are guys with other cancers to report issues resuming sex after cancer therapy.

Sexual aspect consequences are most typical after therapy for:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer

More mature guys are much more likely to knowledge sexual dysfunction after cancer therapy. Which is simply because most older guys, such as those people who have not experienced cancer, will knowledge issues with sex at some time.

So older guys who’ve experienced cancer therapy might knowledge sexual aspect consequences similar to growing older fairly than to therapy. Or they might find that cancer therapy accelerates the sexual aspect consequences linked with typical growing older.

Erectile dysfunction: Most typical sexual aspect impact of cancer therapy for guys

A amount of sexual aspect consequences can take place as a final result of cancer therapy, such as:

  • Inability to accomplish or retain an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Difficulty climaxing
  • Orgasm with no discharge of semen (dry orgasm)
  • Weaker, less gratifying orgasms
  • Reduction of desire in sex
  • Pain all through sex
  • Less power for sexual activity
  • Emotion less eye-catching

Not each gentleman with cancer will knowledge sexual aspect consequences. Your medical doctor can go over the level of danger you might face for your precise type of cancer and therapy.

Cancer can trigger sexual aspect consequences if the cancer requires sexual organs. Cancers that do not influence the sexual organs can also influence your sexuality by switching your system graphic, generating you really feel less eye-catching, or producing fatigue or despair and lowering desire in sex.

Sexual problems can also final result from aspect consequences of cancer and its therapy, such as fatigue, ache or panic about your therapy. In addition, frustrated feelings about getting cancer could trigger a loss of libido.

From time to time emotional factors might have sexual aspect consequences in addition to the physical improvements you undergo all through therapy.

How cancer treatment plans influence your sexuality

Surgical procedure, radiation treatment, hormone treatment, chemotherapy and other prescription drugs can all trigger sexual aspect consequences.

Surgical procedure

Nerves in your pelvic spot management blood movement to your penis. If you have a tumor in your pelvic spot that demands to be eradicated, your surgeon must function very carefully to steer clear of detrimental nerves. A severed nerve can direct to weakened erections or the incapacity to accomplish an erection.

Functions that can trigger erectile dysfunction include things like:

  • Colon and rectal surgery. If you have colon or rectal cancer, you might involve surgery called abdominoperineal resection to clear away your lower colon and rectum.
  • Bladder surgery. A technique called radical cystectomy for bladder cancer requires removing the bladder, prostate, higher urethra and seminal vesicles.
  • Prostate surgery. If you have prostate cancer, you might think about radical prostatectomy to clear away your prostate and seminal vesicles.
  • Penis surgery. Although rare, surgery to clear away all or portion of the penis (penectomy) is an option for guys with penile cancer. If the penectomy is partial, you might still be able to accomplish an erection.
  • Lymph node removal. Surgical procedure to clear away a lot of lymph nodes in the pelvic spot (retroperitoneal lymph node dissection) might be used in guys with testicular cancer or certain sarcomas.

More recent nerve-sparing operations are less likely to trigger erectile dysfunction, however no matter if you are a candidate for that type of surgery is dependent on the sizing and area of your cancer. For some cancers, nerve problems are not able to be averted if the surgeon is to clear away all of the cancer.

Adult men who undergo nerve-sparing prostatectomy might knowledge temporary erectile dysfunction, when the consequences are long lasting in guys who are not qualified for the nerve-sparing surgery.

Nerves broken all through surgery might trigger you to knowledge a dry orgasm — an orgasm with no ejaculation of semen. The semen your system creates might not leave your testicles, or it might be pushed into your bladder (retrograde ejaculation).

Some guys say that a dry ejaculation feels no various and, typically, their associates do not observe or do not intellect the difference. Nevertheless, other guys find that dry orgasms are weaker or really feel less pleasurable than their orgasms before surgery.

In addition, some operations might involve placement of an opening (ostomy) that makes it possible for stool or urine to acquire in a bag that attaches to your system. Wearing an ostomy bag might make you really feel self-conscious and unattractive. Ostomy therapists and specialized clothes can support increase your self-self-assurance.

Radiation treatment

Radiation aimed at the pelvis can trigger erectile dysfunction, however it isn’t really obvious why.

Radiation might problems nerves in your pelvic spot, block blood movement to your penis or lower the level of testosterone in your system. Radiation’s aspect consequences commence gradually about six months to a yr after therapy.

No matter if you knowledge erectile dysfunction as a final result of radiation treatment is dependent on the amount of radiation you get and how substantially of your pelvic spot is staying addressed — a increased level of radiation about a increased amount of your system is much more likely to trigger sexual aspect consequences.

Adult men who smoke or who have a heritage of heart disease, higher blood tension or diabetic issues also might be at a larger danger of erectile dysfunction after radiation treatment. These circumstances might have previously induced some artery problems, which can be manufactured even worse by the radiation.

The amount of semen you ejaculate might lower after radiation treatment. You might really feel ache all through ejaculation after therapy, however it typically goes away about time.

Hormone treatment

If you have prostate cancer that has unfold, your medical doctor could attempt to lower the level of the hormone testosterone in your system by removing your testicles (orchiectomy) or managing you with prescription drugs.

Some prostate cancers depend on testosterone for gas. By reducing your testosterone amounts, your medical doctor hopes to slow or cease your cancer’s progression. Adult men who have massive prostate cancers could get hormone treatment to shrink the prostate before surgery to make it simpler to clear away.

Hormone treatment most usually results in a loss of libido, but it doesn’t take place to absolutely everyone. Some guys find that they have a need for sex but are not able to get an erection or are not able to attain orgasm. More youthful guys have a tendency to have much less sexual aspect consequences from hormone treatment. Hormone treatment can also trigger you to develop less semen when you ejaculate.


You might knowledge a loss of libido and issues accomplishing an erection after chemotherapy. Some chemotherapy medications minimize the amount of testosterone your system creates. You can typically regain your sexual operate in just a few weeks of ending therapy.

Chemotherapy can trigger fatigue, greater bleeding or an greater danger of infection. All through this time, your medical doctor might advise you to steer clear of sexual intercourse, or you might not really feel the need for sex.

Other prescription drugs

Quite a few other prescription drugs are recognized to interfere with sexual operate in guys. Pain prescription drugs, if taken on a regular basis, can direct to sexual dysfunction. A massive amount of prescription drugs that are used to handle some of the aspect consequences of cancer also can influence sexual operate. Ask your medical doctor if any of your prescription drugs might be top to a dilemma with sexual operate.

What you can do to regain sexual operate

Some sexual aspect consequences of cancer therapy will take care of in a few weeks. Other folks might final for a yr or two after therapy, and some will be long lasting.

Obtain out as substantially as you can about what’s impeding your sexual operate. This might support you really feel much more in management of the situation and support manual you to therapy choices. You might also want to:

  • Do some experimenting. You might find that certain cases reignite your sexual need or support you get an erection.

    Fork out interest to what performs — no matter if it can be stimulating your penis you or thinking about sexual fantasies. You could find your orgasms are much more powerful if you devote much more time on foreplay. Right after certain operations or treatment plans, various sexual positions or activities might be useful. If fatigue is a big dilemma, let your companion to get the much more bodily lively part.

  • Communicate with your medical doctor. Your medical doctor can give you much more info on what’s producing any sexual dysfunction you are experiencing. From there you can go over therapy choices, such as prescription drugs, implants or gadgets that can aid an erection.

    Maintain in intellect, however, that some doctors might be just as hesitant or embarrassed as you are to communicate about sexual aspect consequences. If so, check with your medical doctor for a referral to a expert, such as a urologist or a sex therapist.

  • Communicate with your companion. Allow your companion know what performs best for you. Be sincere about your fears and feelings. If you are silent about what you are experiencing, your companion might really feel rejected.

    Your companion can offer crucial assistance as you get well from cancer therapy. She or he could also have concepts on how to support you regain your sexual operate.

  • Communicate with other cancer survivors. Your wellness care crew could be able to steer you to a assistance team in your city. If not, join with other cancer survivors on the internet.

    If you are embarrassed about talking about sex confront to confront with strangers, the on the internet setting offers much more anonymity. Begin with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network.

Adult men who have experienced cancer therapy might find that it basically can take time to regain sexual operate. Medicines and other choices for therapy function in some guys and not in other folks. From time to time it can take a yr or two for nerves or blood vessels in your pelvic spot to recover.