Urologist and University lecturer, Doctor Belinda F. Morrison, writing in a local newspaper, Jamaica Gleaner, has called attention to the misconceptions and lack of facts surrounding sex and prostate cancer.
Doctor Morrison noted that although several studies have linked high frequency of ejaculation (whether by sexual intercourse or masturbation) to slightly lower risk of prostate cancer the evidence is still inconclusive regarding such claim.
Moreover, she argued that there are studies that make the connection between frequent sex and an increased risk of prostate cancer. This, however, maybe attributed to the age at one’s first intercourse and number of lifetime sexual partners, she declared.
The doctor further noted that increasing evidence suggests that a possible cause of prostate cancer is sexually transmitted infections and inflammation rather than intercourse per se. This is an emerging area of interest in prostate cancer research.
In addressing the question of whether sex life change after diagnosis of prostate cancer she indicated that the answer is guarded within the context of statistics and probability. She however, pointed to the fact that not all men with prostate cancer will have ‘impotence’ or erectile dysfunction after treatment.
Doctor Morrison stated that the prostate is encased in nerves that stimulate the penis to become erect and added that the male hormones released from the testes play an important role in generating and maintaining erections.
She indicated that maintaining an erection after prostate cancer treatment depends on a number of factors. These include the erectile function or potency prior to treatment, age of the man, the stage of the cancer, presence of medical illness, e.g. diabetes mellitus, already known to be associated with erectile function decline and type of treatment for cancer.
She further said that surgical removal of the prostate through the technique of a ‘nerve-sparing operation’ helps in preventing long-term erectile dysfunction. Infertility and dry ejaculation are also side-effects following treatment for prostate cancer, she pointed out.
Finally, Doctor Morrison asserted that there are ways to improve erections after the treatment of prostate cancer. These include exercise, dietary change, and maintenance of good blood pressure and glucose control and early stimulation of penile tissue. The administering of drugs also helps to improve sexual function after treatment, she opined.
However, more importantly, she argued the priority of treatment must be the eliminating of the cancer and although sexual dysfunction after treatment may occur, there are multiple of strategies to prevent and treat this.
By Yvad Billings, The Readers Bureau, Fellow