When You Can Have Sex After Prostate Cancer Treatment

When you can return to your normal level of sexual activity following treatment for prostate cancer has a lot to do with which type of treatment you underwent.

Middle Aged Couple Kissing
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Types of Prostate Cancer Treatments

For men who have undergone prostate cancer surgery, for example, many surgeons recommend avoiding sexual activity for at least several weeks (anywhere from three to six weeks) in order to allow for proper healing. Radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy do not necessarily preclude men from returning fairly rapidly to their prior level of sexual activity.

However, there can be side effects as a result of these treatments that make sex difficult or impossible. These possible side effects include fatigue and erectile dysfunction. So even if you've been given the go-ahead by your healthcare provider, you may find it necessary to redefine what sex means for you and your partner and to explore new or alternative sources of pleasure.

If you have been treated with implanted radioactive seeds (brachytherapy), your healthcare provider will likely give you a certain time frame wherein sexual activity should be avoided due to the presence of radioactivity within your prostate. Most men can have sex one to two weeks after their seed implant. Men should wear a condom for the first two months after their seed implant. This break in sexual activity is also meant to allow for proper healing following the implantation procedure.

Sexual Functioning Post-Treatment and Redefining Sex

Be forewarned: Most men will experience some erectile dysfunction for the first few months after prostate cancer treatment. However, within one year after treatment, nearly all men with intact nerves will see a substantial improvement. And any of the treatments mentioned above can have adverse effects on male sexual functioning. So where does that leave you? Is your sex life over after prostate cancer treatments, even if you're still technically allowed to engage in it?

Absolutely not. As mentioned above, it can sometimes be necessary to redefine what sex means for you and your partner. But this is the case whether or not you have prostate cancer. As people age, and as their bodies change, their intimate lives naturally evolve. Eventually, it becomes necessary for everyone to change the way they view intimacy.

Sometimes this means experimenting with various sexual aids, such as toys and/or personal lubricants. Sometimes this means trying alternative sexual positions. Sometimes this means talking about turn-ons with your partner and exploring new avenues for pleasure. After all, your erogenous zones can change, too. So don't be discouraged if things don't feel as they once did when you engage in sex post-treatment.

If you are concerned about your sexual functioning after undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, do talk to your healthcare provider. If they don't have the answers for you, they may be able to refer you to a medical provider specializing in sexual functioning, or to some other type of sexuality professional.

2 Sources
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  1. UCLA Health. Brachytherapy and you.

  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Erectile dysfunction after prostate cancer.

By Matthew Schmitz, MD
Matthew Schmitz, MD, is a professional radiologist who has worked extensively with prostate cancer patients and their families.