Prostate cancer, dating, and “the inevitable conversation”

One of our regular correspondents has brought to our attention a recent article on the web site that deals with dating and cancer (with prostate cancer being a specific example referred to in the article).

In particular, if things start to get serious, prostate cancer patients are going to  have to deal with the question of when, where, and how to address the subject of their cancer experience and the impact of  treatment on their sexual capabilities.

This is a topic that has come up more than once in questions to Ask Amy on this web site. (Apparently it’s not a topic that anyone is interesting in Asking Arnon or Asking Arthur, which perhaps tells us something about the sensitivities surrounding this issue.)

For some men the issue is not really a huge problem. It comes down to, “Everything works just fine, except that I just don’t ejaculate the way I used to.” For others, there may need to be a great deal more thought necessary about how to appropriately package the relevant information — even if it is just related to the benefits of/necessity for using a drug like Viagra or Cialis.

The article by Don Vaughan on basically provides pieces of advice through the experiences of a number of different cancer patients — including one prostate cancer patient:

  • “There is no one-size-fits-all answer” to when to broach the subject. “It’s different for everyone.”
  • If there is clear physical evidence of cancer treatment, “it’s definitely time to talk when intimacy appears imminent.”
  • “If you go into that conversation feeling timid, ashamed or nervous, then that’s the sort of message that gets communicated.”
  • “I have cancer as part of my history, but it doesn’t define who I am” tends to be a much more positive message.
  • “Waiting until you are in bed [may not be the best idea] because it’s such an intimate setting.”
  • “A long car drive can be a good opportunity … because you have nothing to distract you from the conversation.”

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