Having sex when you have prostate cancer
A friend with prostate cancer is terrified to have sex with his partner in case he passes the cancer on. How can we convince him it's OK?
Quite a few men think they can pass on prostate cancer during sex. This is not true. Cancer is not infectious. But this is a very real anxiety your friend has and it is important to understand how powerful this fear can be.
Your friend's feelings could be more complex than he is letting on. For some people cancer doesn't just change them physically. It can cause many different emotions and these intense feelings may affect how they feel about sex. They can often have problems with their sex life. Talking about these problems can be very difficult for many people. Some people speak of a change in their body image after a diagnosis of cancer and may, for instance, say that they feel unclean after treatment. Many men lose their interest in sex.
Some of the treatments for prostate cancer can affect sex drive and it may be that your friend doesn't feel like sex, but doesn't want to say so. Some treatments can cause impotence. Again he may be worried about this but not feel able to talk about it. There is detailed information about cancer and your sex life in our living with prostate cancer section.
Your friend and his partner may find that this problem will get better with time and a little patience. It may be easier if they can talk things through together. He may feel more comfortable just cuddling and being close to his partner right now. If he feels under pressure to have sex it may make things even more difficult for him.
Some people find that they need outside help to get through these times. They may benefit from talking to a counsellor, the doctors and nurses at the hospital, or a sex therapist. These people are aware of the difficulties people have with cancer and will be able to offer advice and support.
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