Questions and Answers about Sex after Prostatectomy (The James)

Questions and Answers about Sex after Prostatectomy (The James)


It is normal to have questions or concerns about how prostate cancer and its treatment may affect your sexuality. This handout gives answers to some of these common concerns. Sexuality is more than the act of sexual intercourse. It also involves your thoughts, feelings and spirituality. Your sexuality is unique to you.

Q: Can I pass prostate cancer on to others?

A: No, cancer is not contagious. You are unable to pass cancer to others in any way, including hugging, kissing, touching, or sexual intercourse.

Q: If I am too tired or do not feel well enough for sex, how do I let my partner know that I still care?

A: Your cancer or the treatments may make you feel tired and you may not want to have sex. Talk to your partner about how you feel. You can still be close with your partner by touching, kissing, stroking, or massage. Loving words or gestures are other ways to express your feelings.

Q: Can I have an erection?

A: Depending on your treatment, you may be unable to have an erection. Cancer treatments can cause erectile dysfunction (ED).

ED is when your penis does not become or stay erect. Impaired nerve function or blood flow are the most common reasons why men have ED after cancer treatment. Loss of function to the nerves or blood vessels can be caused by surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy or chemotherapy. Even if the nerves are saved, such as with a nerve sparing prostatectomy, you can still have some damage or injury to your nerves which may be slow to heal.

Q: Can I still have an orgasm?

A: Even if you are unable to have an erection, you can still have orgasms. Your prostate and seminal vesicles make the fluid in your ejaculate (semen). Because these organs are removed during your surgery, you will no longer ejaculate during orgasm. You may find that your orgasms are not as pleasurable as before your cancer treatment.

Q: When will I know if I can have an erection?

A: Your doctor will talk with you about what to expect based on your cancer treatment.

Q: Is there anything that can help me have an erection?

A: There are many treatment options available to help you have an erection after your cancer treatments. Talk with your urologist about the Erectile Rehabilitation Program.

Q: Will I still want to have sex with my partner?

A: It is normal to lose interest in sex during cancer treatment. It is common for other issues, such as anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, or fatigue, to cause a loss of desire. Cancer treatments can also change your hormone balance, which may lower your sexual desire. A prostatectomy does not directly change the way your body makes the hormone, testosterone. Testosterone helps to support your sexual interest.

Q: Is it all right for me to have sex during or after treatment?

A: You can have sex again after your cancer treatment, once you feel comfortable.

If sex is uncomfortable, talk with your doctor or nurse about ways to make it more comfortable. You may need to try different positions or take a nap before sex. Talk openly with your partner about your concerns and how you feel.

If you have other questions or concerns, talk to your doctor or a member of your health care team. They can refer you to the Male Sexual and Reproductive Medicine Program.


© July 18, 2018. The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or health care team if you have any questions about your care.