Effects of prostate cancer on sexuality
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer develops in the prostate glands which is one of the glands present in the male reproductive system. The prostate cancer has a relatively slower growth and is hence difficult to detect in the beginning. The cancer cells in the prostate glands have the tendency to metastasize or spread to the other parts of the body especially the lymph nodes. One of the most prevalent types of cancer found to occur in men; it rarely occurs before the age of 45-50 and is the most common form of death in men above the age of 75. Also at times, prostate cancer has no visible symptoms resulting in no treatment and eventually premature death. Prostate cancer has many side effects and one of the major disruptions caused by it is in the sexual life.
Effects on sexual life due to prostate cancer
Listed below are some of the physical and mental effects that prostate cancer has and its treatment can have on a sexual life. Let us take a closer look at them:-
- Treatment involving Radical prostatectomy might involve removing a major part of the prostate gland from further spreading of the cancer cells. This at times leads to irregular flow of blood leading to faulty erection.
- Completion of the entire treatment may lead to erectile dysfunction or even castration depending upon the intensity of the damage caused by the disease.
- Blood circulation to the sexual organs is disrupted if a pelvic surgery is involved.
- Loss of libido is the most common sexual side effect that is reported amongst men who have undergone prostate cancer treatment.
- Physical disfigurement such as hair loss affects the self image of a man and it has an adverse effect on the sexual life.
- Fertility is also affected due to the radiations that are provided during chemotherapy.
- Due to the consumption of Anti-androgen drugs after completion of treatment, it produces a negligible amount of testosterone and at times men also put on excess weight and suffer from loss of body hair all culminating into depression and even mood swings which impact the sexual life.
Prostate cancer treatment effects
The most common question that is asked by men suffering from prostate cancer is can the disease passed on to the partner with the help of semen? The answer to that is no, prostate cancer is not a sexually transmitted disease. Let us now have a look at some of the effects that prostate cancer treatment has on an individual:-
- The first noticeable difference that one will observe is in his loss of libido.
- Erectile dysfunction and irregular penile blood flow.
- Due to application of radiotherapy, diarrhea is experienced which has an adverse effect on the sexual life.
- Tiredness and lethargy creeps in resulting in the complete lack of desire for sex for some time after the treatment.
- Urinary inconsistency leading to the use of catheter has a psychological impact on a man which more often than not puts him off sex.
- Surgery involving removal of the testicles and in turn lack of production of testosterone reduces the urge and the desire to perform sexually and testosterone cannot be injected in this case as it may lead to relapsing of the cancerous cells.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer has a very slow growth as compared to other forms of cancer and hence takes a lot of time to get diagnosed. The best way to screen out prostate cancer patients is by conducting a PSA blood test. Given below is a list of some of the possible symptoms of prostate cancer:-
- Presence of blood in urine or semen.
- Urination starts slowly or is delayed.
- After urinating, leakage of urine continues to happen.
- Urinary stream flows slowly.
- Experiencing penile pain while urinating and unable to empty out the bladder completely all the time.
- Incessant pain in the pelvic bones and lower back.
Possible treatment options
Medical science is growing at an alarming pace and even though cancer is dangerous, it is no longer considered as life threatening. With the help of a CT scan and a bone scan, the doctors will be able to determine the spread of the prostate cancer. For the initial stages, Radical prostatectomy and normal radiation therapy involving proton therapy will suffice and after treatment, one needs to maintain a balanced diet. If the cancer has spread, hormone therapy involving reducing the testosterone level, surgery which may lead to removal of the prostate gland and high intensity of chemotherapy needs to be undertaken.