Surgery or radiation treatment for localized prostate cancer doesn’t mean that your sex life has to be over. But a big part of this may be up to you – and it’s not just that part. It may be up to you to ask your urologist for extra help. Here are some things Johns Hopkins urologic oncologist Trinity Bivalacqua, M.D., Ph.D., wants you to know.
First, take the SHIM survey. This is really important.
Second, please understand: A lot of urologists don’t give their patients the most accurate picture of what to expect after prostate cancer treatment. There may be several reasons for this: Maybe they don’t want to admit that their results aren’t that good, or they don’t want to discourage patients from getting their prostate cancer treated by worrying them about their future sex life. We’ll get to some of that in a minute.
Third: Way too many men suffer in silence. These men – leaders at the office or in the community, respected, take-charge, tough guys – don’t ask for help. They push sex over to a quiet corner of their lives, and they’re miserable, because they assume that ED is a done deal. It’s their fate. Some things are just not meant to be, they say.
They give up. Maybe they take Viagra or Cialis every day like clockwork, and it doesn’t work. So they tell themselves that this is how it’s always going to be – partial erection, or no erection, forever.
Come on, men:
This is rehab.
If you had trouble walking after a car accident or a stroke, you would accept that it’s a step-by-step process to get you back on your feet. Maybe you’d start with a wheelchair, but graduate to a walker, and then a cane. You would understand this. It would make sense to you.
It’s the same thing with your penis. There are steps. You can escalate.
Don’t give up. This is practical stuff here. If your doctor is not telling you this, print the article and take it in for your next appointment. Ask for help. If you want this to happen, help make it happen. Don’t give up.
And partners: Give the guy a break. Have some empathy. Yes, it’s frustrating for you, and it will take a lot of patience and encouragement on your part, but keep your eye on the prize: long-term success. This man just beat cancer. With your help, he can get all of his life back. It’s not going to be this way forever. Recovery of erections after surgery can take a long time – even years – to return fully. In the meantime, there are many options here. Hang in there, people. You’re not alone.