The day I was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2003 I asked my wife of 25 years, Charlotte, what scared her most about the disease.
“That you’ll die,” she said.
“What scares you?” she asked.
“That I’ll live and our sex life will die!” I said.
Like a lot of men, I mistakenly believed a prostate cancer diagnosis was a sexual death sentence. After all, the nerves controlling erection are located on either side of the prostate and may be removed or damaged during treatment.
But thanks to robotic-assisted nerve-sparing surgery, drugs like Viagra, Levitra and Cialis, vascular reconstruction, injections, penile prostheses, vacuum erection devices and more, problems from short-term erectile dysfunction (ED) to long-term impotence can now be resolved.
Still, your partner might need a hand getting back his bedroom mojo and you can help by:
1. TAKING THE REIGNS
A lot of guys are uncomfortable discussing sexual problems, so help voice his concerns by writing questions he can ask in the privacy of an exam room.
Some good ones:
- I’m having trouble achieving an erection. Would a stronger dose of my current medication help, or would you prescribe another ED medication?
- When could I try them?
- Is reconstructive surgery something I should consider?
Tip: If you’re accompanying your partner into the examining room, ask “Do you mind if I ask the doctor some questions about our sex life?” That way he won’t feel blindsided or embarrassed if you speak up.
2. BOOSTING HIS CONFIDENCE
My ego got a major boost when my wife, Charlotte, assured me that any sexual side effects of prostate cancer wouldn’t derail our marriage or define us as a couple. Saying something like, “Our relationship is stronger than anything that happens in the bedroom, and I’m with you every step of the way” reminds your partner of your unconditional acceptance and lifts his confidence.
In fact, Charlotte and I grew even closer as we researched treatment options; talked with physicians; and explored different ways to achieve sexual satisfaction.
3. STAYING ONE STEP AHEAD
Prostate cancer is an equal opportunity destroyer – it brings anger, disappointment, loss and sadness to both partners in an intimate relationship. You can help by leading, not pushing, your guy to talk about his treatment and the physical and emotional impact it’s having on him.
Sure, experts stress the importance of communication, but exactly how do you bring up your sex life? Try during a car ride, while taking a walk or sitting on a park bench—and definitely not while you’re lying in bed. Your partner is less likely to feel defensive during a side-by-side conversation that takes place outside the bedroom.
Tip: Try to say, “I miss feeling close to you. I miss cuddling and holding hands.” Talking about your feelings opens the door to a frank discussion.
4. EXPLORING THE ALTERNATIVESE
So, maybe traditional intercourse isn’t in the cards right now—in that case, visit Amazon.com for books (there are more than 250) on tips and tricks for achieving alternative sexual satisfaction. You can also get anonymous embarrassment-free advice using online search engines like Google, Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers.
Tip: Make sure your web browser is in the “Safe Search” or “Moderate” setting to avoid XXX sites.
5. GETTING BACK ON THE HORSE
Once prostate cancer throws you, it’s not easy getting back in the saddle. Whenever I was feeling depressed due to my recovery or treatment-related sexual challenges my wife would say, “Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s bad.” It was Charlotte’s way of assuring me that we were both going to survive prostate cancer. It soon became our couple’s mantra and remains so to this day.
This blog post was contributed by Robert “Bob Hill”, is an eight-year prostate cancer survivor and author of Dead Men Don’t Have Sex: A Guy’s Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer.