Will treatment for my prostate problem affect my sex life?

Some treatments for prostate conditions may have side effects and could impact on a man’s sex life, although the percentage affected is small and there are some ways of minimising the impact.

Some treatments for prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can lead to a man becoming impotent. In the case of BPH, after a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), a small number of men become impotent and have erectile dysfunction, but some report better sexual function.

Surgery to remove part or all of the prostate because of prostate cancer, in common with a TURP, can lead to retrograde ejaculation. This is when the semen is deposited into the bladder at orgasm, rather than through the penis. This doesn’t stop a man having an orgasm, but he may not ejaculate. In certain cases, especially with keyhole surgery and where the tumours are small, it is possible to develop a procedure to avoid impacting on a man’s erectile function.

Men receiving hormone therapy for advanced prostate cancer may find that their sex drive is reduced, and have problems with erectile function. Once, or if, hormone treatment finishes, a man’s sex drive may return or increase, as the body starts producing testosterone again.

Should you experience erectile problems, it may be worth discussing this with your doctor/nurse. They will advise you on treatment options and help you decide upon which treatment may be the most suitable for you.

For men with erectile dysfunction, there are a number of ways to overcome it by using oral tablets, pellets, self-injections of medication, vacuum pumps, or occasionally (usually as a last resort), surgical implants. There are a number of medications these days which have been shown to often help. These include sildenafil (brand name Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®) and (Levitra®). Prostate scotland has produced a booklet on prostate conditions and erectile dysfunction – this can be viewed by clicking here or going to our downloads page

In the case of wearing a condom, the normal safe sex rules should apply. Also, for men who have had brachytherapy, it is advisable to wear a condom for the first few occasions of sex, in case some of the ‘seeds’ for the treatment are passed in the semen.

There are also websites for female partners of men with erectile dysfunction, one of which can be found at www.lovelifematters.co.uk (please note Prostate Scotland is not responsible for external content)