Because androgens play such a large role in a man’s sexual health, many men on ADT experience sexual problems. They may become less interested in sex or develop erectile dysfunction (ED), an inability to get an erection firm enough for intercourse.
Other side effects of ADT can affect sexual function, too. It’s not unusual for men to feel fatigued, gain weight, and feel depressed or anxious. The stress of having cancer can take its toll as well.
What can a man do? Here are some ideas:
• Talk to his doctor. Because sex is such an integral part of well-being, men are encouraged to discuss their specific sexual problems with their doctor. Often, there are treatment options available. For example, a man with erectile dysfunction may try medications, injections, and vacuum devices.
• Talk to his partner. Sharing feelings and concerns with his partner can strengthen the couple’s relationship as they work on solutions together. Sometimes, couples need to make some adjustments in their bedroom routines. If intercourse is difficult, they may also need to explore other ways of being intimate, such as oral sex, massage, cuddling, or kissing.
• Consider counseling. Cancer and its treatment can be overwhelming. Through counseling, a man can work through feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, and fear. He might also benefit from sex therapy, a type of counseling specific to sexual issues. Many couples attend sex therapy sessions together.
• Exercise and maintain other healthy habits. Staying fit is good for both physical and mental health. For example, keeping weight under control boosts body image and self-esteem. And exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.