Sex after Testicular Cancer

Cancer and Sex

Cancer and cancer treatment, regardless of the type of cancer, can cause physical and psychological sexual dysfunction. Your hormone levels may change; therapy may make you tired or cause pain; and medications, depression, changes in body image and some types of surgery may directly affect your sex life.

The most common sexual complaint cancer patients report is loss of desire. Men worry they will have trouble achieving, or maintaining, an erection. They also fear they may not be able to ejaculate or continue to reach orgasm. In many cases, the cancer-related dysfunction is temporary.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men between 15 and 54. Men with testicular cancer typically have it in just one testicle. This is good, since the other, healthy testicle can carry the load for both. Radiation, chemotherapy and most surgeries should not affect your ability to have and enjoy sex.

Sex drive can vary widely from man to man. Many men don't experience any negative changes with testicular cancer, while others may need hormone therapy to re-establish their desire. If you are one of the rare men who does get cancer in both testicles, your physician will probably prescribe testosterone hormone replacement therapy to restore your sex drive and functioning.

Other Issues

While having one healthy testicle will allow you to continue normal sexual relations, chemotherapy and radiation may affect your fertility by interfering in sperm production. If you hope to father children, discuss this with your physician before you begin treatment.

You cannot pass cancer along to your partner through sex. However, semen may contain chemotherapy drugs. In addition to damaging sperm, these drugs can cause birth defects. Physicians recommend male cancer patients use a condom during chemotherapy treatment.

Don't be afraid to discuss changes in your sexual desire or ability with your physician. He or she has likely treated other men with similar difficulties and can offer suggestions to help your situation. There are also medical interventions, such as medications, medical devices or surgery, which are effective for some men.