Sexual Dysfunction in Prostate Cancer

The month of N/Movember has arrived! While the follicly-capable strut their cool mo’s to bring attention towards men’s health, here at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre, we want to bring attention to one of the lesser talked about male concerns – sexual dysfunction in prostate cancer. Whether it’s a side effect of surgery, radiation, hormone therapy or from the mental and emotional effects of cancer, sexual dysfunction affects most men with prostate cancer and their partners as well.

Fortunately, with advances in health care, individuals with prostate cancer are living longer – conventional treatment options have improved – however they are also living with long term effects of their cancer and its treatment. In terms of sexual health, the long term effect could include both reduced libido as well as erectile dysfunction. There are conventional treatment options available – pills, injections and pumps – however nothing specific that works for every individual and most men end up trouble-shooting a few options.

In light of this, we would like to offer our patients a new idea on how to “do it”. Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have both been studied with men with prostate cancer and their partners for sexual health. Even in those who are having no issues with libido but have physical difficulties, CBT has been shown to improve sexual function. Opening up about your sexual health may feel like a difficult task, but interestingly enough, studies have shown that individuals who partake in group therapies and forums have an improved sexual quality of life, orgasm satisfaction, self-esteem and sexual confidence. While we know it’s not all mind over matter, the mind does matter.

If you have yet to try a mindfulness-based approach or CBT, we strongly recommend giving it a try as a therapy to improve sexual health. Here at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre, we offer free drop-in mindfulness sessions every Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. and if you’re looking for a one-on-one approach, our Registered Psychotherapist, Dr. Kristin Heins BA, ND, RP is available every Thursday.