What about my sex life?
This is the most frequently asked question and the thought uppermost in many men’s minds when they are first diagnosed with prostate cancer.
There is no straightforward answer, because it depends on the stage of the cancer and the treatment that the man decides to undertake (and of course, it depends on what your definition of ‘sex’ is).
So, let’s deal with men who opt for radical prostatectomy, that is surgical removal of the prostate gland. Most men will experience sexual dysfunction after the operation.
Who do men and their partners go to see about this?
“What if every cancer patient had a sexual recovery specialist?”
These are the words of my colleague, Victoria Cullen, who specialises in dealing with sexual dysfunction after any treatment for cancer, but with a special interest in prostate cancer.
After hearing Victoria speak at the Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference in 2017, urology surgeon Declan Murphy invited her to provide sexual recovery consultations to all his private prostatectomy patients.
Almost every man experiences a change in sexual functioning after prostate removal surgery. In particular, most men will not have erections for at least a year (usually longer, and sometimes permanently). The impact of this loss on quality of life and self-esteem can be devastating.
The aim of Victoria’s approach is to help patients recover as much function as possible and have a fulfilling sex life regardless.
This is the first time an Australian surgeon has prioritised this aspect of quality of life recovery within ‘usual care’.
Victoria is based at Cancer Specialists in Richmond. I recommend checking out Victoria’s website. She also has a blog post on the Cancer Specialists’ website which explains the work that she does and why she does it.
As well as checking it out for yourself, it might also be helpful to pass on to others who are interested in sexual recovery after prostate cancer treatment.