“If you want to avoid prostate cancer, have sex with multiple women!” This is one of the commonly peddled myths about prostate cancer. Hot on its heels is the claim that only men who have few sexual relations get prostate cancer. In June 2019, scandalous preacher Gilbert Deya confessed that he had cheated on his wife in order to avoid getting prostate cancer.
Just what is the link between prostate cancer and sex and how will it affect your sex life?
Although most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer have a high chance of surviving, this cancer has a direct bearing on your sex life. A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School found that one may suffer a reduced penis size after surgery or radiotherapy. The penile reduction was also common in men with recurrent prostate cancer and was attributed to nerve and blood vessel damage. Apart from sustaining reduced penile size, you may also sustain erectile dysfunction.
Radical prostatectomy (the surgical procedure for complete removal of the prostate) is the cause of most erectile problems during treatment. It may take you three months to three years to regain your erections after going through this surgical procedure. If you undergo radiotherapy, your erectile problems could last for up to two years. “Men who have hormone therapy or radiotherapy might also produce less to no semen, resulting in dry orgasms or retrograde ejaculation,” says the oncology medical journal of Cancer Research. After treatment, if you are still able to make an erection, you may find that erections and ejaculations are painful. The pain is due to internal bruises and the inflammation of the urethra that is caused by radiotherapy and will go away after a few weeks.
If you suffer erectile dysfunction or reduced penis size, your confidence and desire for sexual intercourse could reduce. However, no damage is irreparable if you are willing to see the right health professionals. These include your oncologist, urologist, sexologist, and physiotherapist or clinical psychologist. Psychologist Patrick Musau says that the road to recovery and regaining your sexual prowess should begin in your mind. “To have a balanced recovery, your mentality needs to come to terms with your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery therapy,” he says. This doesn’t mean that you should shun romance. Stay positive by introducing new ways of getting intimate that do not necessarily entail direct intercourse. “Kiss and cuddle as regularly as possible, have candle-lit dinners, take baths together and go to bed together to maintain and enhance your intimacy,” he says.
Cancer is not sexually transmitted. This means you won’t pass on cancer to your partner during sex. However, it is advisable to use protection when engaging in intercourse during the treatment period.
Having sex will not affect treatment or make your cancer recurrent.
Erectile problems during and after treatment are not always permanent. You can heal and regain your sexual prowess.
Testosterone: According to the National Cancer Guidelines by the Ministry of Health, the onset of prostate cancer could be related to high testosterone levels. However, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), ejaculation in itself has not been scientifically linked to prostate cancer prevention.
Vasectomy: According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) journal, men who have had a vasectomy do not have a direct higher chance of developing prostate cancer. On the contrary, their choice of contraception means that they are more likely to be examined for prostate cancer and any abnormal development of the prostate gland detected early.
Erectile Dysfunction: Not all men will suffer erectile complications or urinary incontinence. However, the two are likely to be possibilities where a patient has undergone radiation or surgery.
Surgery: If your prostate gland including the seminal vesicles is removed during surgery, you will have dry orgasms during intercourse, according to the PCF journal.