Effects of prostate cancer on your relationship

Liesbeths * (66) A man had prostate cancer and was treated for it. Together they must now live with the consequences of this disease. What does it do to your relationship if you can no longer be intimate, how do you stay connected? “We don’t want to give up our sex life and not say goodbye to it yet.”

“I met my husband Han* four years ago via a dating site. From the first phone call there was a clear connection between us. We had a lot in common together and I remember how he talked and how he gladly asked me questions. It turned out to be a very long phone call, which could have been It lasts longer if I’m not about to start working.”

A phone call leads to more conversations and those conversations lead to a relationship. Things are going so well between them that they decide to move in together. Liesbeth sells her house and together they build a new home.

While they are madly in love and planning the new home, something sinister grows in Hans’ body. In August 2020, Han had a blood test related to medication he was taking for another condition. He had no complaints, but a blood test showed that the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) in his blood was significantly elevated. This indicates that something is wrong with the prostate.”

Prostate cancer diagnosis

“Further investigation was done. It could be an infection or something benign, but it’s prostate cancer. We’re both defeated. What are we facing? Is Han going to die? He shot through us. We didn’t know what the complement would be like yet, so we picked the everyday stuff again.” Others… I just had to work.

Then there was an appointment at the hospital. All kinds of tests and measurements have been used to determine the severity of prostate cancer. Then we chose to surgically remove the prostate. That was still exciting in corona times, because operations have been postponed due to Covid-19. Fortunately, the surgery can be done very quickly. Since the operation, Han has been supervised. PSA should not be measurable in his blood. It is checked every three months. Our first check was the same month we got the key to our new house. And what good news: The PSA was immeasurable. What comforts. The report given during the operation said that there might have been cancer cells remaining in the operation area, so we prepared ourselves for different news.

Unfortunately, the relief was short-lived. “During the ensuing scans, it was found that the PSA had risen again, which means there was still something going on. It’s too small to treat now, but at some point in the future it probably will require irradiation. So we’re not done yet.” ‘Moreover, Han will have to deal with more physical setbacks. In addition to a long-term, progressive chronic disease, another acute problem arises. This is separate from prostate cancer.’ After treatment, Han is now better physically, but psychologically. Things are not going well.”

Something is definitely changing in your relationship

Consequences of prostate cancer

He is facing more and more restrictions. Sexually, he is unable to accomplish anything. He struggles a lot with that. He thinks he’s letting me down. I think you’re selling someone short if you knowingly do that, Han doesn’t. I see his fight. He is depressed.

His desire to make love to me is there, but he cannot. As a result, he seeks much less affinity. He also suffers from enuresis, which is something that lasts longer in some men after prostatectomy. When he sneezes or strains himself, he sometimes passes urine. He has no control over that. Urine may also flow during sex. I don’t mind, but he’s ashamed of it.

The hardest thing for me is watching him fight like that. I can say that I don’t feel wronged, but I can’t get rid of it. For me, I would love for us to have sex with each other, but I don’t fall apart if he isn’t there. I miss making love together, in recent weeks I have been thinking about it a lot, because in the period when Han had another severe health problem, neither of us dared to have sex. I don’t feel like a less woman now that I can’t have sex with Han anymore. I was without a guy for years and then had to deal with it too. There are other ways to have sex, like satisfying yourself, but having sex together is what I like best.”

Sex after prostate cancer surgery

The hardest part is watching him fight like that

“Our desire for sex is not much less because of our age, but we have been through a lot and are therefore better able to handle adversity. It is very important and nice that you can have sex with each other, but that is not the most important thing. There is a lot of importance in The relationship. Basically we are good. Together we look at the possibilities. Soon we will talk to the sexologist again to think about other drugs, or maybe there are other solutions that we don’t know yet. We don’t want to give up our sex life yet and we don’t say goodbye to it yet.

My job as a nurse makes it easier for me to talk about sex. I don’t feel taboo about it. Still, I don’t discuss very intimate things with everyone. Not because of taboos, but because this is our thing. It is very important that you continue to talk about it together. If you develop incontinence as a result of prostate cancer, or if sex is no longer possible, I advise you to seek help. Because there. More is possible than people sometimes think. Consider a pelvic floor physical therapist to control your bladder or a sex worker who can think with you if sexual problems occur. Communication between peers can also help.

I would give advice to partners of men with prostate cancer to attend all conversations with healthcare professionals as much as possible. Then you can also explain your side of the matter and ask questions. And if you notice that you need help yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Because something is definitely changing in your relationship.

How do we stay in touch? In addition to talking together, we can turn to each other with our grief over what is no longer there. It also helps to do things together. We both love music and last week planned two trips. But it’s also in the little things. Like cooking for each other or making the house cozy. In addition, humor is very important in our relationship, even on difficult topics. If the humor turns to sarcasm or sarcasm, it’s time to have a more in-depth conversation with each other.

The future after prostate cancer

For the future, I am confident that prostate cancer can be well treated with radiation. I’ve even heard that there is a 100% chance of recovery. In the sexual sphere, I hope there will be opportunities that allow us to enjoy it. I also hope that Han will come out of his gloom and become more mobile.

Fortunately, we can still sweet talk to each other, just like the first time we spoke on the phone. In this sense, our relationship has also deepened.

In November is Movember, an annual event to draw attention to prostate cancer, among other things.

For more information about prostate cancer, visit Prostaatkankerstichting.nl. They are there for men with prostate cancer and their loved ones.

* The names in this article have been changed for privacy reasons.

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