Neil, age 74, offers this startling information about sex after prostate cancer surgery. I'm grateful to Neil for his willingness to share his personal story:
A diagnosis of cancer is very frightening. For me the journey was scary enough without the myths and misinformation I was told about cancer of the prostate. I share my experience in the hope that this information will be of help to others.
Myth # 1: “After Age 55, Sex Doesn’t Matter That Much Anyway.”
I heard these words from a physician who specializes in the treatment of prostate cancer. A very nice person, considered extremely competent, he believed his words would be comforting. They weren’t!
Sex does matter after 55. I promised the doctor that I would look him up on his 55th birthday and tell him to “cut that out.” He sheepishly smiled and said, “Oh my. I think I said something wrong.”
Myth # 2: “What You Have At The End Of A Year Is What You Get.”
Although many men are told that any rehab after prostate cancer treatment will peak in twelve months, every case is different. Some methods of prostate cancer treatment can result in serious damage to sexual performance. On the other hand, robotic surgery and nerve sparing have greatly improved sexual potential. Whatever the case, don’t give up! There are options for almost every case of sexual impairment.
But I must warn about some of the product advertisements that flood the market about penile enhancement, instant erections, and so on. Some of these products can be harmful to a cancer survivor. Some are loaded with testosterone which can cause further growth of prostate cancer. Check with your physician before trying any of these medications.
At all times, keep your partner involved in the options you’re considering. They can be our most precious friends and supporters. They deserve to be part of the solution to our new life experiences.
What We Are Often Not Told:
The penis will be about an inch shorter after surgery. Because the urethra passes through the prostate, when the prostate is removed, that portion of the urethra is removed as well. Then, when the urethra is resectioned, the penis is drawn in towards the abdomen. Secure circumcised males seem able weather this storm but uncircumcised males have an additional problem. The surgery leaves more foreskin than before. This additional tissue traps urine and produces odor. Baby Wipes do a very fine job of solving this problem. They are easy to carry and save a lot of embarrassment.
The “Missionary” position usually is no longer successful after prostate surgery. Because the prostate stabilizes the penis and prevents it from receding into the abdominal cavity, removal of the prostate decreases penile stability. The angle of the vagina, coupled with a shortened penis with no internal stability means vaginal intercourse may not work. However, “Doggie Style” and “Woman on Top” work just fine.
I welcome feedback about the experience of others regarding sex and prostate surgery!
9/22/2009: Neil added these comments about how his urologist saved his life.