Sexual Health Q&A

How might penile cancer – and its treatment – affect a man’s sex life?

The effects of penile cancer treatment on a man’s sex life depend on the extent of his cancer and the type of treatment he receives.

If the cancer is detected early and treatment is conservative, a man may be able to resume fairly normal sexual function after recovery.

A man who has had a partial penectomy – partial removal of the penis – may still be able to have intercourse. In some cases, the penis can still become erect and long enough to penetrate a partner. It may also still be possible to reach orgasm and ejaculate.

After a total penectomy, in which the entire penis is removed, a man is unable to have intercourse. However, he can still experience intimacy with a partner. Some men still have pleasurable sensations when certain areas are touched. And they can still give their partner pleasure through touching and oral sex.

Many men who have had a penectomy benefit from counseling. A therapist can help a man (and his partner, if he has one) cope with changes in body image, adjustments in sexuality, and any anxiety and depression that may result.

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