Survivor Story: A Personal Perspective

How to deal with sexual dysfunction after prostate cancer.

Sexual dysfunction and subsequent depression are fairly common after prostate cancer and treatment, even after erectile nerve-sparing surgery.

For instance, although I was pain-free following robotic surgery in April 2007, my prostatectomy traumatized my pelvic area. This, other chronic illnesses and various medications led to erectile dysfunction (ED), which made me feel sexually inadequate. For me, it was a real “downer,” which led to my unwitting withdrawal from my wife, physically and emotionally.

Like many others, I’ve dealt with ED by taking prescribed devices, pills and potions, including supplemental testosterone. This helped restore much of my self-confidence and energy. But I realized that “medical mechanics” were not enough. That’s why I developed these strategies to overcome the sense of being “less than a man.”

> If you mourn the loss of your “manhood,” openly admit it to yourself and those you love. Just “getting it out” will help you reduce your depression and agitation.

> Redefine yourself as a man by accentuating personal qualities such as self-awareness, self-discipline, decisiveness and caring. This will remind you that you are still potent despite your sexual impotence.

> "Make love,” don’t just “have sex.” After all, intimacy and sexuality involve far more than intercourse.

> Get in touch, literally and figuratively, with someone you cherish. Do so through mutual stroking, kissing and cuddling.

> Sharpen your communication skills. If you can’t implement this and other strategies on your own, seek the guidance of a sex therapist or intimacy coach.

Ed Weinsberg is a rabbi, healthcare educator and certified sexuality counselor.