Erectile Dysfunction and Other Sexual Issues
Erectile dysfunction, also called impotence, is the inability to develop or sustain an erection.
Why it happens: Prostate cancer treatments can cause trauma to the nerves and blood vessels that control an erection. These include:
- Surgery to remove the entire prostate gland
- Radiation therapy, either by external beam or radioactive seed implants
- Hormone therapy, due to the testosterone-reducing action of drugs
What are your options?
- Oral medications relax muscles in the penis, letting blood rapidly flow in
- Injections of medicine into the penis before intercourse (intracavernous injection therapy)
- Vacuum constriction device to draw blood into the penis
- Penile implant, which requires an operation to place implant in the penis
Loss of libido, or sexual desire
Why it happens: Sometimes, it’s a result of certain hormone therapy. Other times, it may occur because of treatment side effects, such as fatigue or weight gain.
What you can do:
- Maintain good communication. Rather than avoid the topic, address it with your partner. Say something like: “I’m sorry I haven’t been in the mood lately. I hope you know it’s because of my treatment. But I still want to feel close to you, so let’s cuddle.” Relaying your concerns will help you two stay connected.
- Consider joint counseling. Speaking with a third-party professional can help you and your partner open up with each other, and provide ways to cope.
- Determine if it’s depression. If you think your loss of libido may be due to depression, which is common after diagnosis and surgery, speak with your healthcare professional.
Urinary incontinence, which ranges from leaking to complete loss of bladder control, and increased urinary urgency
Why it happens: After therapy, these symptoms are usually caused by damage to the nerves and muscles that manage urinary control.