Movember: Shattering the silence around male sexuality and cancer

Posted on 8 November 2023 by Natalia
Movember: Shattering the silence around male sexuality and cancer
As the chill of November begins to whisper through the air, a curious trend takes root: the sprouting of moustaches in a myriad of shapes and sizes upon the faces of gents far and wide. And rest assured, chaps, it's not just for a dash of dapper style. Movember has grown into a global movement that unites both men and women in a noble front: battling male cancers, bolstering mental health, and spearheading suicide prevention for the lads.
With this mantle of awareness and camaraderie, it's high time we broached a topic that's been all too often skirted around: the nitty-gritty of how prostate and testicular cancer can play havoc with one's sex life. Cancer wages war not just on the body but invades the sanctum of intimacy, identity, and our relational lives.
Movember serves as a poignant reminder that each moustache has a tale, a battle, and a voice that's worthy of being heard. So, this month, let's do more than just cultivate our whiskers; let's kick-start the conversations, rally behind our brothers, and collectively smash the taboos surrounding sexuality and male cancer. Let's talk about the tough stuff, because the path to overcoming starts with opening up.

Understanding male cancers

Prostate cancer

When it comes to prostate cancer, it's a condition where malignant cells rear their ugly heads within the prostate tissue—nestled right beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. This chap plays a pivotal role in seminal fluid production, aiding in the survival and transportation of sperm.
Prostate cancer stands as the second most common cancer that lads worldwide might grapple with. One in nine will be diagnosed in their lifetime. However, the survival rate is relatively heartening, especially when caught in the early stages.
Symptoms might include a spot of bother with urination, pain during ejaculation, or even bone aches. But mind you, these symptoms aren't exclusive to prostate cancer and can be mistaken for other benign conditions.
Risk factors are a motley crew including age, ethnicity, family history, and genetic predispositions. Lifestyle elements, such as diet, also step into the ring here.

Testicular cancer

Now, for testicular cancer—it's less common than its prostate counterpart, but it mainly targets the cells responsible for sperm production.
It accounts for merely about 1% of all male cancers but has seen a bit of a rise over recent years. The silver lining? It's one of the most treatable forms of cancer, even when it decides to throw a late punch.

Symptoms may present as a painless lump or swelling in one of the testicles, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, a dull ache in the abdomen, or sometimes, an abrupt build-up of fluid in the scrotum.

Risk factors toss in a mix of family history, developmental testicular snags, and certain genetic abnormalities.

The unspoken side effects of cancer treatments

The skirmish with cancer is a multi-fronted affair. Survival is paramount, but the aftermath of treatments for male cancers can deeply rock the boat of one's sex life.

Prostate cancer

Treatment options for prostate cancer, though potentially life-saving, can deal a blow to the sexual function of the men undergoing them.

  • Surgery: Prostate removal can lead to erectile dysfunction. Urinary incontinence, another possible side effect, can weigh heavily on one's confidence and self-image, thus affecting libido.
  • Radiotherapy: This can damage the tissues and nerves around the prostate. The impact on erectile function might creep up slowly, leading to a downturn in the quality of erections and sometimes pain during ejaculation.
  • Hormone therapy: By reducing testosterone levels, hormone therapy directly hits the libido and can lead to erectile troubles. These effects are usually reversible post-treatment, but can have a lasting imprint on sexual well-being.

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer and its treatments also pose challenges for sexuality and fertility.

  • Surgery: The removal of a testicle can leave a psychological mark due to changes in body image. However, if the other testicle is healthy, testosterone production and the ability to achieve erections should remain unaffected. Fertility, however, might take a hit.
  • Chemotherapy: This can temporarily impair sperm production and diminish libido. The effects are often reversible, but it requires a good deal of time and patience for things to swing back to normal.

Living with changes to your sex life post-cancer diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis is a watershed moment in one’s life, and the ripple effects on sexuality can layer additional complexity onto an already daunting challenge.

Communication with your partner: Cancer is a journey that, while physically endured by one, emotionally involves both partners. Open discussions about fears, worries, and expectations can alleviate anxiety and fortify intimacy. It also paves the way to collectively discover new methods of experiencing and sharing pleasure, with due regard to the physical and emotional shifts.

Psychological support: Trained psychologists or sexologists, well-versed in cancer-related issues, can offer a safe haven for discussing sexual challenges. Support groups also provide a community of solidarity and invaluable advice.

Medical treatments: Medications such as Viagra may be prescribed for erectile dysfunction. Other aids like penis pumps or penile rings offer alternative strategies.
Movember, with its staunch commitment to sparking dialogue about men's health, underscores the vital creed that one need not face these battles alone. There are ample resources and communities poised to bolster men as they navigate towards a new sexual and emotional norm post-cancer.
A man’s sex life after a cancer diagnosis may undergo a transformation, but it need not be forsaken. Armed with the right tools and support, men can rediscover a fulfilling and meaningful intimate life.