For Testicular Cancer Awareness Month: Sex after Testicular Cancer Treatment

We are sharing this infographic produced by the popular new online company, hims, for Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. I think they did a great job of presenting the basic facts, but I do want to add a little commentary:

  • Though it is true that the majority of men have satisfying sex lives after testicular cancer treatment, it is also not uncommon to go through periods with sexual problems.
  • A significant minority of men (maybe 20%) have less sexual activity after testicular cancer, often from a combination of concern about stigma, body image, and some decrease in desire for sex. 
  • Men who have a retroperitoneal node dissection (RPLND) end up with a long, obvious scar on their abdomen and may avoid showing it on the beach or during sports activities.
  • Many men feel self-conscious in the locker room or with a new sexual partner because one testicle is noticeably absent. A number of men choose to have minor surgery (often at the time the testicle is removed) to put in a silicone "testicular prosthesis" that feels like a natural testicle and is matched in size to the remaining one.
  • Men who get chemotherapy as part of their treatment are most at risk for sexual problems like loss of desire or erectile dysfunction (ED), certainly during and just after treatment, but also as they get older. Evidence is growing that cancer treatment in teens or young adults can cause a kind of premature aging of the reproductive system, for example leading to ED at a younger age than in most men.
  • These sexual problems can be treated with testosterone replacement (only occasionally needed, but sometimes overlooked as a problem) or direct ED treatments such as oral meds, penile injections, vacuum erection devices or even surgery to put in a penile prosthesis (bionic internal pump system).
  • Although men often reject the idea of "counseling" a mental health professional familiar with sex, fertility, and cancer can often help with emotional coping, sexual communication, decisions about parenthood after cancer, or couple tensions. (Note Will2Love's new telehealth psychology services!)

This educational material is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace, or substitute for, professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read in this educational material.

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