Navigating Intimacy: Prostate Cancer and Sexless Marriages
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Navigating Intimacy: Prostate Cancer and Sexless Marriages

One of the world’s most dangerous diseases affecting millions of men is prostate cancer. The impact on sexual functioning is one important part of this condition, which goes beyond its physical toll and frequently causes emotional and relational issues. Understanding the fundamental details of prostate cancer, its impact on male sexual performance, and possible measures for maintaining intimacy becomes critical as couples confront the scary prospect of a sexless marriage as a result of the disease.



Table Of Contents

General Facts About Prostate Cancer

How Does Prostate Cancer Impact Male Sexual Functioning?

Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Prostate Cancer?

If I Am In A Sexless Marriage Due To Cancer, What Should I Do?

Can My Partner Be Sexually Satisfied Without Traditional Intercourse?





General Facts About Prostate Cancer


One in eight men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives, making it the second most frequent malignancy among men worldwide. An important component of male reproductive health is the prostate, a walnut-sized gland situated just below the bladder. Although the exact reasons for prostate cancer are yet unknown, there is a risk associated with age, race, and family history (Rawla, 2019).


A digital rectal examination and a blood test for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) are frequently used in the screening process for prostate cancer. Since prostate cancer usually grows slowly, early detection is crucial since early diagnosis increases the likelihood of successful therapy (Leslie et al., 2024).




Prostate Cancer and Sex

Photo by Marcus Aurelius


How Does Prostate Cancer Impact Male Sexual Functioning?


Prostate cancer therapies, such as radiation therapy, surgery, or hormone therapy, can frequently result in sexual dysfunction even though the disease itself may not directly influence a person’s ability to have sexual relations. Hormone therapy, for instance, has been shown to lower sexual desire and raise the risk of erectile dysfunction (Kinnaird et al., 2021).


The prostate is surrounded by sensitive nerve bundles which are in charge of sending signals that control sexual responses. The loss or disruption of these nerve bundles during surgery, especially radical prostatectomy, can have an impact on a man’s capacity to obtain and sustain an erection (American Cancer Society, 2023). In addition to killing cancer cells, radiation therapy can harm surrounding blood vessels and nerves, which can worsen sexual dysfunction (American Cancer Society, 2020).


Libido and sexual desire might decline as a result of hormone therapy (White et al., 2015), which is frequently used to block the synthesis of testosterone, a hormone that promotes the growth of prostate cancer cells (National Cancer Institute, 2021). Furthermore, heat flashes, weight gain, and exhaustion are possible adverse effects of hormone therapy that can negatively affect a man’s sexual and general well-being (White et al., 2015).




Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Prostate Cancer?


The effect of prostate cancer on sexual functions does not always imply the cessation of sexual activity. Although the path may differ, there are a number of approaches and techniques that can be used to keep intimacy intact.


Communication is Key: It’s critical for partners to communicate honestly and openly. It is imperative that both parties communicate their anxieties, worries, and expectations with relation to intimacy. Putting on a united front promotes emotional support and enables couples to overcome obstacles together.


Explore Different Forms of Intimacy: Couples can experiment with different types of intimacy outside of traditional sexual relations since sexuality is multifaceted. Emotional intimacy can be increased and a connection can be maintained through sensual caressing, kissing, and mutual exploration.


Consult a Healthcare Professional: It is essential to get advice from medical specialists, such as urologists, counselors, and sex therapists. These experts can offer information on the many forms of treatment for erectile dysfunction, such as drugs or devices.




If I Am In A Sexless Marriage Due To Cancer, What Should I Do?


Being diagnosed with cancer can have a profound emotional impact on the person receiving the diagnosis as well as their companion. Couples who discover they have a sexless marriage as a result of prostate cancer should take proactive measures to deal with the issues and keep their marriage healthy.


Seek Professional Counseling: Individual or couple therapy with a professional counselor can offer a secure setting to talk about feelings, worries, and fears regarding how prostate cancer affects intimacy. A licensed therapist can help couples communicate and understand each other better by providing advice and coping mechanisms.


Educate Yourself About Available Options: The available treatments and their possible implications on sexual functioning should be discussed and understood by both partners. Couples are better able to make decisions about their intimate lives when they are aware of the psychological and physical effects of prostate cancer.


Patience and Understanding: When facing the difficulties of a cancer-related sexless marriage, patience is a virtue. The road may be difficult, but there are ways to adjust and discover new pleasure and connection points, so both partners need to be accepting and encouraging.






Can My Partner Be Sexually Satisfied Without Traditional Intercourse?


Human relationships have many facets, including sexuality, which makes it complex. While prostate cancer treatments may affect traditional sexual relations, couples should look into other options to preserve their sexual fulfillment and enjoyment.


Embrace Non-Penetrative Intimacy: Touching, kissing, and exploring together with sensuality are examples of non-penetrative forms of intimacy that can be very fulfilling. A satisfying and pleasurable romantic life can result from putting more emphasis on emotional connection and mutual enjoyment than on particular sexual practices.


Experiment with Sensual Communication: Intimacy is mostly dependent on communication. Trying out different sensual communication techniques, such as expressing preferences, desires, and inclinations, can improve sexual satisfaction and strengthen emotional ties.


Consider Intimate Devices: A wide range of personal devices aimed at improving sexual satisfaction and pleasure are available on the market. Together, a couple can investigate these choices and select tools that meet their own requirements and tastes.





Prostate cancer poses a serious risk to both individuals and couples due to its possible impact on sexual performance. However, couples can negotiate the challenges of a sexless marriage and discover new opportunities for closeness and connection with open conversation, education, and a readiness to adjust.


Despite the difficulties presented by prostate cancer, exploring other types of intimacy and asking medical professionals for support might help you maintain a happy and rewarding relationship. Couples may feel more resilient and close to one another as they work through these challenges together, which only serves to deepen their relationship during the prostate cancer treatment process.








American Cancer Society. (2020, February 5). How Cancer Can Affect Erections | Adult Males with Cancer.


American Cancer Society. (2023, November 22). Surgery for Prostate Cancer | Prostatectomy.


Kinnaird, W., Konteti, V. K., Mitra, A., Davda, R., & Payne, H. (2021). Sexual dysfunction in men with advanced prostate cancer. Trends in Urology & Men’s Health, 12(3), 7–12.


Leslie, S. W., Soon-Sutton, T. L., R I, A., Sajjad, H., & Skelton, W. P. (2024). Prostate Cancer. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.


National Cancer Institute. (2021, March 15). Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer Fact Sheet (nciglobal,ncienterprise) [cgvArticle].


Rawla, P. (2019). Epidemiology of Prostate Cancer. World Journal of Oncology, 10(2), 63–89.


White, I. D., Wilson, J., Aslet, P., Baxter, A. B., Birtle, A., Challacombe, B., Coe, J., Grover, L., Payne, H., Russell, S., Sangar, V., Van As, N., & Kirby, M. (2015). Development of UK guidance on the management of erectile dysfunction resulting from radical radiotherapy and androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 69(1), 106–123.









Written By: Dr. Wasif MD

Edited by: Madison Vargas, BS

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Published : 02/12/2024


Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Written and reviewed by

Madison Vargas

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