FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • PROSTATE CANCER • THE QUEENS COURIER 37
Helpful advice for couples in search
of intimacy after prostate cancer
A prostate cancer diagnosis can lead to
profound changes in a man’s relationship
with his partner. As the most common
non-skin, male-specifi c cancer in the
U.S., prostate cancer aff ects one in nine
men. Approximately 165,000 men will be
diagnosed with prostate cancer this year
and 29,000 men will die from the disease.
While early detection and treatment can
save lives, treatment side eff ects can have
a negative impact on quality of life.
Th e prostate gland is part of the male
reproductive system. Th erefore, treatment
side eff ects can include erectile dysfunction
and incontinence, which can be
temporary or ongoing. Th ese side eff ects
can take a toll on sexual health and intimacy:
in fact, sexual dysfunction is oft en
identifi ed as the most common longterm
side eff ect aft er prostate cancer
treatments like surgery or radiation.
“We don’t always recognize and talk
about the ways that prostate cancer is
also a couple’s disease,” says Dr. Anne
Katz, a renowned author and clinical
nurse specialist who has devoted her
career to helping men and their partners
work through intimacy issues. “When
prostate cancer treatment aff ects a man’s
ability to perform sexually, that eliminates
what is a very important expression
of love for his partner. Th at can
have an emotional impact on the man
and his partner. We oft en see that leading
to a downward spiral of distance and
Find common ground
Address these challenges by talking
openly about one’s sexual needs while
being respectful of the other partner.
Acknowledge that this conversation may
be uncomfortable. It may feel a bit like
threading a needle ... while wearing oven
mitts. Neither wants to appear selfi sh.
Neither wants to upset the other during
an already stressful time. And, for many
couples, discussing these deeply personal
issues in open conversation feels awkward.
Th e natural thing to do is to avoid
talking about it rather than risk the
embarrassment of a possible rejection.
Recognize that communication is the
best way for any couple to address their
issues about intimacy. Enter the conversation
with the mindset that you and
your partner can support each other and
fi nd common ground. Hold the conversation
in a neutral area - away from the
bedroom - without distractions or interruptions.
Above all, listen and empathize.
Know that options are out there
Most couples do not realize that there
may be possible solutions to restoring
sexual function aft er prostate cancer
treatment. From pills, to external devises,
injections and surgical procedures,
there are solutions for nearly everyone.
With persistence, a little humor, open
discussion, and medical support, couples
may reclaim sexual function once again.
Seek counsel from
For some couples, working through
the barriers to their sexual intimacy can
be stressful and overwhelming. Don’t be
afraid to seek professional help. You may
feel uncomfortable with the idea of talking
about these private matters with outsiders.
But know that there are expert
counselors highly skilled in engaging you
and your partner in a discussion about
these sensitive issues, in addition to physicians
who specialize in restoring sexual
You’re not alone
Th ere’s no need to suff er in silence.
Many couples must navigate intimacy
issues in the face of prostate cancer,
and there are a number of resources
available to help make that easier.
To access resources off ered by Us TOO
International Prostate Cancer Education
and Support Network, visit ustoo.org.
Th ere are pages on Sexual Health and
Intimacy (at www.ustoo.org/intimacy)
and Incontinence (at www.ustoo.
org/incontinence) and a Prostate Cancer
Pathways page (at www.ustoo.org/prostate_
cancer_pathways) that contain
information about educational events on
this topic and others that are helpful for
couples dealing with prostate cancer.
— Courtesy BPT