Millions of men suffer from erectile dysfunction, Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man cannot get or maintain an erection. While the causes can be multi-faceted and range from the physical to the emotional, a new study has found that men with prostate cancer are even more prone to this condition.
The study, which was led by the UK-based Macmillan Cancer Support charity, found that men with prostate cancer are four times more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. The researchers involved in the study pinpointed prostate cancer treatment measures including hormone therapy and radiation as possible culprits behind sexual side effects like ED.
While illness can often be problematic when it comes to sexual pleasure and performance, there is likely an emotional side to these ED symptoms as well. Cancer is always frightening, even when a man has access to healthcare and treatment, and it is probable that the stress and anxiety regarding a cancer diagnosis might also complicate a man’s sexual response.
Although we tend to think of men as stoic and impervious to fear, the reality is that gender stereotypes don’t do men or women any favors. Men are just as likely to be frightened and as sad as women are, but even when it comes to things like illness, loss, or other major life events, society often expects men to tackle things with a “boys don’t cry” mentality,
By holding in their emotions and putting on a brave front, men only further complicate their mental state, not to mention, their sexual pleasure. It’s hard to let go and enjoy sexual pleasure if you are worried about your health or if you don’t feel well. If men are instead allowed and encouraged to let their true feelings out, they can move forward in the present and work through emotions as they occur.
Erectile dysfunction can also create a bit of a vicious cycle, even for men who aren’t undergoing prostate cancer treatment. After an episode of erectile dysfunction, the man might become nervous or worried about his sexual performance. He then carries that anxiety and fear with him into his next sexual encounter, and those feelings of stress only make another episode of ED more likely. It’s hard to achieve or maintain an erection if you are panicked that the moment won’t last or that your partner is judging you and your sexual prowess. In this sense, ED can become a mental battle that keeps many men from being able to relax and enjoy sex.
The best thing you can do for your sex life and your cancer treatment is to simply be honest with your partner. Talk to your partner about what you are going through and how you want to keep the communication lines open and the intimacy alive during this difficult time. Even if intercourse isn’t always open, you can stay sexually connected through erotic massage, self-stimulation, oral sex, or even just bathing together.
You should also consider talking to your doctor as well. Sexual health is part of your physical health, so don’t be embarrassed to ask questions or discuss sexual side effects. Here’s to healing and recovery!