How does advanced prostate cancer affect your relationships?

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A diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer is never welcome news.  Just simply hearing this information can bring about many changes one of which is your relationship with your partner.  As unsettling as this message can be, it does not have to negatively affect your connection with each other.  By learning and understanding what this means in terms of how it will affect you physically, emotionally and sexually, it can prepare each of you for what is to come and to be better equipped on knowing how to handle situations as they arise.

Be informed on what to expect

It is always advisable for a man’s partner to come with him as much as possible to his doctor appointments.  This allows your doctor to get to know your spouse or significant other and vice versa.  By bringing them with you to doctor visits, they can ask the doctor questions they may have bringing up concerns regarding treatment, side effects and other issues related to your prostate cancer.

One of the most pressing concerns has to do with how advanced prostate cancer affects your sexual relationship.  Many men who go through prostate cancer treatment will have trouble getting or maintaining an erection for the first few months after treatment.  The doctor can explain to both of you that the treatments for prostate cancer which can include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and medications can have strong side effects.  These side effects may include weight gain, reduced libido, increased tiredness and urinary incontinence.  All of these unwelcomed reactions can be upsetting but manageable.  This is where the doctor can explain appropriate treatment methods to both of you at the same time keeping you informed of how the symptoms can be handled.

Being able to hear and understood what may happen and how it can be treated, can bring a greater degree of tolerance and compassion which leads to better intimacy between both of you.

Rethinking intimacy

Having an advanced cancer can place a great deal of stress on any relationship, no matter how strong it is.  It is crucial to make time for being with one another, being available, affectionate, and giving more attention to each other than ever before. 

Because of the nature of prostate cancer and how it can affect your sex life, patience, tolerance, and acceptance of the fact that sex may have to take a backseat for a while will go a long way in dealing with the situation. 

Showing sexual intimacy is not all about intercourse.  If a man is unable to achieve an erection, it in no way represents he does not find his partner desirable anymore.  It just means there are other ways to be sexual where a couple can still find pleasure and feelings of love for one another.  Keep the intimacy strong by expressing affection through extra hugs, kisses, backrubs, or just touching your partner frequently letting them know how much you care and are there for them. 

Seek help when needed

Sometimes even under the best of intentions, having advanced prostate cancer can lead to problems with sexual or emotional closeness.  When there are issues between a couple in regards to being able to remain intimate when dealing with a serious disease, they may want to seek the advice of a therapist.  Men often times are reluctant to do this but listening to another professional’s opinion and advice can make a tremendous difference in the treatment process.

If a man’s physical health is suffering from prostate cancer treatments, discuss this with your physician as they can recommend ways to improve the quality of your life and relationship.

No one says anyone going through advanced prostate cancer will be lucky enough to escape conflicts in their relationship.  The important thing to remember is not to let it ruin your relationship with one another.  And many couples who have been through it will often tell you that in spite of everything they had to endure, the diagnosis of prostate cancer made their relationship stronger, more secure and loving than ever before.