Breaking barriers: a collaborative response to male sexual difficulties
Here are some cases of men’s responses to the sexual side effects of prostate cancer treatment, gathered as a resource for the Institute for Psychosexual Medicine ACM on 11 November 2023. Based on personal experiences.
- Society’s shaming: see the opening minutes of Episode 4 of Season 4 of Sex Education on Netflix
- The British Association of Urological Surgeons prostate cancer leaflet in 2020
My experience of prostate cancer diagnosis:
Living with ED feels like a wasteland – from my Psychology Today blog
Rare case: easy and full recovery
George’s story: As good as it gets
Assumptions: Invitation to health care professionals
- Don’t assume it is all fixable
- Even though we collude with you in believing so
- Recognise that many treatments leave us with fundamentally new bodies
- Don’t assume older men are “past it”
- Don’t assume we don’t care about sex just because we don’t talk about it
- Astonishing what rich sex lives go on behind the picket fence (reality and imagination)
- Don’t assume we can’t talk about it just because we don’t
- Don’t assume it is over when the other primary issue (e.g. cancer) has been dealt with
Breaking down barriers – a starter kit for health care professionals
What seems to help
- Holistic care teams
- Early inclusion of psychosexual and physiotherapy care
- Support groups
- Involving partners
What health care professionals can ask
- How important is sexual function to you?
- Who else matters in your sex life, and can we include them in this conversation?
- What do I need to accept about your sexuality for you to feel comfortable talking to me about your sexual health?
- Who else can you talk to about your changing sexual self and how can I support you?
What health care professionals can say
- Tell us the truth about the outlook for my quality of life after treatment
- We have a range of interventions that can help you regain some aspects of sexual function but it won’t be the same as it was before
- Consider how you can get psychological and emotional support to adapt to these changes.