Ask Amy … to Get a Woman’s Point of View

Sometimes even men can benefit from a female point of view on what appear, at first sight, to be exclusively male health issues.

ask-amy-sm.jpgAmy is the wife of a long-time prostate cancer patient who has agreed to offer her experience in whatever way she may be able to help. In particular, we believe she will be able to give suggestions and guidance to the wives, partners, mother, sisters, daughters, nieces, and female friends of prostate cancer patients as those patients go through the difficult processes of diagnosis and treatment for a disease that is emotionally unsettling for most men.

Please understand that Amy is not a physician. She is “just” a well educated laywoman with very personal experience of prostate cancer and its problems. She cannot provide you with medical advice. You should always talk to your doctor about your clinical condition and how it should be managed.

You may post your question for Amy using the comments / reply box below. Questions and answers are retained on this page for approximately 60-90 days from the time they are originally posted.

28 Responses

  1. Hi Amy.

    Well, my husband is still with us — sort of. His latest diagnosis (as if Stage IV metastatic prostate cancer isn’t enough) is Lewy body dementia. Wow — adding insult to injury in some respects.

    However, that being said — maybe it’s a blessing because he doesn’t really know / remember what is happening to his body. He had the last chemo in March of 2017 and he will never have it again, according to the doctors. There is nothing out there that can be tried on him at this point and, since he now has been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia — it merely complicates the possibility of any trial studies that might have been effective.

    We have Home Health / Hospice / Social Worker coming in now — to see if we can now get palliative care for him and to make sure I am doing OK.

    I had to retire in August due to his not wanting me to leave him to go to work. My sister had moved in with us — he would not have been alone, but he didn’t want me to leave him — I cried all the way to work and called in retired after my shift was over. Praise God!

    I told him that I retired when I got home and that I still had paperwork to do to process out, but that after that — all was good and I would be with him 24/7/365. Seemed to make him happy.

    The doctors are not ordering scans any more because there is not much they can do at this point — no matter where it’s spread or how much more it’s spread. His PSA has risen another 10 points in a month — kind of sad — and he’s starting to have some pain in his left upper thigh down to his foot — sad there as well. He doesn’t want to take pain medication so I give him Aleve or Tylenol (not at the same time or even on the same day). Eases the pain somewhat and Physical Therapy is coming in to help with that as well.

    Good news is that he is still able to walk a little — slowly — but since I had him taken off one medication his walk is getting a little better and he is able to be awake more, but his memory is messed up still. Some days — most days — he has no idea that I am his wife and that makes me sad as well. Still, I figure I can do the remembering for him along with our children and the grand-loves. We talk to him and show him pictures and talk about old times with him and it seems to bring him back to reality for a little while anyway.

    Guys: Please — do get your check ups. Prostate Cancer is totally curable if found early enough –

    Wives / Partners: Encourage and drag your man in for a yearly check up. A lot of the frustration I have read about in some of the posts could be avoided with a little prevention. Perhaps “prevention” isn’t the correct word. There is no “preventing” cancer — but if caught early enough, most of the things I’ve read, don’t have to happen. If caught early enough, prostate cancer is curable.

    I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty — my husband had no symptoms or such vague symptoms that we were not really aware of — nothing that would lead anyone to think anything was amiss — until October 26, 2012 when he could not urinate at all. That’s when my husband’s journey began with this mean disease.

    My goal of posting now is just to ask you men to get your check-ups! (Wives / partners — you may have to drag them to a doctor to get this done.)

    While there is little that can be done to help my precious husband — if even one person is spared all he has gone through and what he will go through without a miracle — this post will be worth it.

    As my husband continues through this journey, I will be right here with him through every appointment — through the good and the bad, till death do we part. (BTW: My husband is what everyone would call a model patient. He’s calm, collected, and has not allowed this to drag him down. Praise God – I give all the glory to God for that.)

    God bless each and everyone of you. Ladies — my thoughts and prayers are with you all — caretakers of the world unite. Toughest job we have to deal with, but all I can really add is, “All it takes is for my husband to smile at me and say thank you for me to know that he is appreciative and just makes me want to help him even more”. I will love him forever … 39 years of marriage and counting. …

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Hi Ellen.

    I don’t think there is anything that I can usefully add to that!

    Amy

  2. My husband has had his prostate removed. It’s been 3 years now. He has no sex drive and cannot get an erection. He has for the past 22 years secretly (until caught) looked at porn. I recently found evidence that he still looks at porn. I’m hurt by this. We have not had sex in 3 years. He’s not interested in trying to please me by oral sex or toys. He has the injections he could use but doesn’t seem interested. My question is, if he can’t get a hard on, what is he getting from still looking at porn? I just don’t understand. We are just now in our 50s.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Sherri:

    For many men, the idea of being able to procreate is the absolutely driving and dominant force in their lives, and it is something they have limited control over. We are, after all, “just another animal”. Look at the way stags behave during the rutting season. They have just one thing on their minds, and anything that gets in the way is taking his/its life in his/its hands!

    Many human males live in a constant state of confusion between this biological priority and the (comparatively recent) social priority of monogamy. Some can deal with this easily. Others can’t. Arguably, male use of pornography is a way to help some men balance the two conflicting priorities. Many women — unsurprisingly — have a hard time understanding this.

    Your husband has had a third problem added to this mix. He can no longer “function appropriately” as a male. He has lost his ability to get and maintain an erection, and this means he not only feels emasculated. He also feels as though he has no status as a male among other males (let alone among women). For some men, this is devastating.

    Now your husband’s failure to “please” you is probably a consequence of the issues just described in combination with a lack of imagination and a profound degree of embarrassment. Being able to look at pornography may — in his mind — be his only way to pretend to himself that he is “still a man”. His imagination can still work in this area even if his body can’t.

    Please understand that I am not trying to absolve him of what I would like to think he would see as his responsibility to find ways to change how he thinks and behaves and to recognize that he isn’t the only one who is in need of missing sexual gratification. What I know is that, unfortunately, there are a lot of men who just don’t seem to be able to make this transition. They just don’t seem to “have the necessary wiring” in their brains.

    The only way real I know of that can help men like this to overcome their problem is through professional counseling. And sadly all too many such men absolutely reject the idea that they need such help — because it requires them to admit that they need the help in the first place. Catch 22!

    I have laughingly (and laughably) told people in the past that if I could find a way to resolve this particular problem I would be a deserving candidate for a Nobel Prize (for Marital Peace). But the problem is not funny at all. Overcoming it is all about communication between the couple. And that communication means you putting aside the anger about him looking at porn and him putting aside his sense that he is “no longer a man” and deciding to do something about it.

    One thing that I do know has worked for some couples is when the man gets a penile implant. It can give him back his sense of confidence in being able to “perform” as a male, and (I hear) it can give the woman back her sense of physical pleasure. However, it probably doesn’t work for everyone, and any man who wants to consider getting an implant would be wise to have this done by someone who specializes in this particular forms of surgery.

    Amy

  3. My husband had prostate cancer 5 years ago. He had the surgery and radiation. He has not touched me since. He got me to get stuff from the compounding pharmacy, but he won’t use it. He asked how I would feel if I had to put a needle in my privates. I am thinking of leaving. Please help.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Karen:

    I’m sorry to hear about your and your husband’s problems.

    The impact of diagnosis of and treatment for prostate cancer is well understood to be completely traumatic for many men. I addressed many of the reasons for this a few days ago in answer to a question about another, similar, situation. You might want to look at that question and my answer.

    I am assuming that the product you got for your husband from the compounding pharmacy was what is known as Trimix. It is administered by injection into the penis prior to sex, and it can work very well for some men. However, I can also tell you that for other men the whole idea is simply impossible to deal with, and the only thing I could possible compare it to would be you having to give yourself an injection of something into your clitoris each and every time prior to having sex. In all honesty, I’m not sure how well I could deal with that, so I do understand your husband’s question.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I also absolutely do understand your anger and frustration. But the only solutions that I know of for this problem are communication between you and your husband and (perhaps) a penile implant (as described in the prior answer above).

    If you and your husband have reached the point at which you can barely talk to each other at all about all this, then I suggest you both need some professional counseling … but I also have to tell you that there are no “easy fixes” for this particular problem.

    I don’t know if this will help, but you do need to be able to see this from your husband’s perspective … even if he appears to be being unsympathetic to you. He has been devastated by his inability to “perform” normally as a man.

    Amy

  4. Amy,

    My question is I have met a guy I really care about and have a great deal of feelings for. He is going through a divorce, and I just found out not long ago that he has had prostate cancer and is afraid to get involved with me. His words are, “You wouldn’t understand.”

    I’ve assured him I’m not going anywhere and that it’s not all about sex. He also has a bad tendency of shutting down. He will get really depressed and angry. Is there anything I can do to help him? I really care a lot about this guy and I enjoy what time we spend together. I also don’t want to scare him off with texting and calling him all the time to make sure he is OK, because when he gets depressed and angry I worry a lot about him.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Amy:

    I think that the first thing you need to appreciate is that he really almost certainly is depressed and angry. And he may be depressed and angry for a long time.

    He has been traumatized. He has lost a key physiological capability that was a big part of what made him a man. And to some extent he is right. No woman will ever really understand what that means to some men, just as no man will ever understand the emotional response that most women have to giving birth. So …

    If you really feel strongly about the gentleman in question, you are going to need to be very, very patient, and very, very gentle. Don’t bring up his issues at all. Only call him when you have something very specific that you’d like him to do for you, e.g., when you are going to a dinner or a party and you want someone as an “escort” or when you’d just like a companion to go with you to a movie or similar. Treat him as a friend and let him “make the running” when he is ready to do so.

    But equally you need to be aware that some men never get over this problem.

    Arthur and I (that’s the Arthur who also answers questions on this web site) have discussed this whole issue many times over the years. Arthur never got depressed about the biological changes that happened in his case, but he has always told me that he can easily see why it happens to a lot of men, but explaining it is almost impossible. The impact is so deeply embedded in what it means, biologically, to “be a male”. He tells me that there is really nothing rational or logical about it. It’s just something that happens to some men, and — for such men — recovering their sense of self worth and masculinity can just take time.

    Hope this helps a little.

    Amy

  5. Hi I’ve been going with my partner for 1 year. He has metastatic prostate cancer. He acts like everything is fine, which is good because he is getting on with his life. This includes relationship arguments which I’m sure is elevated because of his illness and stress from both of us.

    My issue is he demands my time constantly and I have been tugged between my daughter and him for my time. I have asked for time to myself but he doesn’t understand and gets upset. How do I deal with this or do I just try and keep my self as healthy as possible and try not to stress. It is sometimes hard to tell if he is jealous or just scared to be in his own. Any suggestions?

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Therese:

    It really doesn’t matter whether he is being jealous or is scared to be on his own. If you don’t get “down time” to do the other things that you want and need to do, his constant demands for attention will just wear you out.

    This sounds like one of those situations when, if he was a 9-year-old, you would simply say that, “Mommy has to go out for an hour and you will need to be a big boy and look after yourself for a little while. There’s a peanut butter sandwich in the fridge if you get hungry.”

    Your partner “understands” just fine. He is simply being unrealistic, and you need to be polite and firm. A healthy relationship is one in which both parties agree to cooperate about some things and give the other party space and time to do other things on their own or with other parties (e.g., your daughter). Every time that you give in to his demands for constant attention is one more time that you reinforce his sense of entitlement.

    I understand that it can be difficult to negotiate these issues, but it is a necessary aspect of a healthy relationship. He needs to value your needs as much as he seems value his own.

    This probably isn’t particularly helpful. Unfortunately, however, it is a fact of life! :O)

    Amy

  6. Hi Amy, when I married my second husband he was 45 and I was 47. He had gone through chemotherapy for prostate precancerous cells and was given a clean bill of health. This was a few years before I had met him and we had no problem at all with intimacy.

    After 2 years he completely lost interest in intimacy, blaming it on his prostate. It has now been 9 years and he has not even wanted to try all the different meds there are for men. I just do not understand that for 2 years, with a clean bill of health, he was fine. I hate to admit this but I have found evidence contrary to what he has told me. It’s not another woman that I’m worried about; it’s if it’s a man, which makes me feel even worse. I honestly don’t know if I can live the rest of my life with not having intimacy or constantly wondering if he’s bi, gay, or whatever. I’ve asked him but he totally denies it and says he loves me. Now his best friend who is 10 years younger and his boss has been governing him real trendy clothes and they talk on the phone all the time. So, if you do gain back everything can it go away like he says or am I basically being a total fool?

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Demi:

    I don’t think this is a situation that I am going to be able to give you much help with.

    However, for what little it is worth … I don’t think you are “being a total fool.” If anyone is doing that, it would seem to be your husband, because apparently he is unable or unwilling to explain to you what is going on in his head (quite apart from whatever may be going on in/with his genitalia).

    It doen’t sound to me as though your husband has a biological problem at all, but he may well have a psychological one if he is unable to give you a meaningful explanation for what is going on. If there is really a problem with his prostate, then why hasn’t he seen a physician about it? And if he has been seeing a physician about it, why hasn’t he been taking you with him to see that physician?

    Now I will also tell you that I don’t understand what you (or he) mean when you say that before he was married to you he had “gone through chemotherapy for prostate precancerous cells”. There is no such chemotherapy that I am aware of (or that Arthur is aware of either; I asked him). A man can have treatment for what is known as “benign prostatic hyperplasia” or BPH, but that isn’t precancerous or cancerous at all. So I have no idea what your husband was being treated for, and I have no reason to believe that whatever he had was actually any form of risk for prostate cancer.

    Amy

  7. I am sorry if this offends you but I need an answer.

    My husband had a biopsy. Looks like cancer. We are married 38 years. We have experienced lots of playtime and techniques as we have gotten older that help us to continue our happiness intimately. But now I am reading about throat cancer and blow jobs. … Can I get cancer from him?

    I am not foolish I understand you cannot give me a definite yes or no. We have not been with anyone else other than each other. Sometimes he gets a burning feeling since the biopsy from blow job ejaculation but not from vaginal ejaculation. Thus us why I am concerned. Please advise.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Any:

    Don’t worry. I’m not offended. You are far from the first spouse or partner or prostate cancer patient to ask about this.

    As far as anyone knows, it would be biologically impossible for you to “catch” prostate cancer from your husband as a consequence of oral sex. Similarly, it would be biologically impossible for your husband to catch vaginal or ovarian cancer from you if you had one of those forms of cancer and he was practicing oral sex on you.

    Female biology and male biology are very different and most cancers aren’t “communicable” in the first place. The only exceptions (as far as anyone knows) are the forms of cancer that are clearly known to be associated with viral disorders such as the HPV virus that can and does cause cervical cancer.

    I don’t think the burning sensation your husband is currently feeling after ejaculation when you have oral sex has anything to do with the cancer itself. It may have more to do with the strength of the ejaculation and some small — and probably temporary — changes to his prostate as a consequence of the relatively recent biopsy.

    Hope that helps

    Amy

  8. Amy:

    My husband just had an inflatable penile implant done three and a half weeks ago and my question is this: his penis and scrotum is very different in that you can feel the implant. … It doesn’t feel like his penis but like a penis with tubes and same with the scrotum. … Is this normal? He’s going to see his urologist on Thursday (4 days) but I wanted to see if this weird feeling is always going to feel like that or what?

    We’ve been married almost 48 years and he’s tried everything before this so it was both of our decisions. … I hope it was the right one. … We haven’t been able to have regular intercourse for many years. … I would appreciate your input and thoughts on this matter. … Thank you.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Kathy:

    I have no personal experience to go on with this question … and this isn’t exactly a cocktail party conversation one has with people. However, …

    I do think that his penis and his testicles are going to feel different. After all, they do indeed now have various bits of technical stuff implanted in them. Also, based on the “use it or lose it” paradigm, his penis probably became smaller over the past few years, and it may take time for his body to adapt to the implants. So, …

    I think the really important thing is for you both to take all of this slowly. You are both “out of practice” so to speak. I suspect that you are going to be able to adapt to the changes if you take it slowly and don’t expect everything to be exactly the same as it was 5 or 10 years ago (let alone when you were both in your 20s!).

    You are going to both need to be able to laugh about “re-learning” to have sex in a new way. If you take it too seriously and make it too important, then you may not be able to take advantage of the opportunity you have both been looking for. You are both going to need to find ways to believe that you really have taken the right decision, but that it’s rather like learning to be a snowboarder after years of being a skier. Some tings are the same … but some things are going to be distinctly different.

    Be patient with each other … be willing to experiment … the fact that there are different feelings for you (and for him) as a consequence of the implant may turn out to have benefits once you have adapted to the idea, after all!

    Amy

  9. Is it safe to give a man oral sex after he’s had prostate surgery? And it’s been removed! He’s in remission now.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    So long as that’s the only problem he has, then — as far as I know — yes. Prostate cancer isn’t a sexually transmissible disease. (See also my answer to this related question.)

    Amy

  10. I’m in a long-term relationship with someone who has been diagnosed. Can I continue to give him oral sex. TY.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Jane:

    Sure you can. If you want to and if he wants you to! Prostate cancer is not a communicable disease, and your biology wouldn’t allow you to have prostate cancer anyway.

    Amy

  11. My husband was diagnosed in 2015, 2 years after we were married. After his surgery he was fired from his job. He’s older (in his 50s) so this led to difficulties finding a job. He then became depressed because of that and due to that fact he was unable to get an erection.

    Our sex life prior was good, that is when he wasn’t constantly watching porn. The porn took a lot of the intimacy away. Well now 3 years later and still no erection, he still watches the porn but says it’s because he’s trying to get ready for me. :).

    I feel like he’s being selfish. I’m waiting patiently, but he can’t put the porn down long enough to even try to get a “hard on” naturally! With me! I find myself wanting to have sex with an old boyfriend just to relieve myself, but I know it would only cause problems. Help!!

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Debra:

    I’m so sorry it has taken me two months to get back to you. Somehow I just “missed” your message and the sitemaster just brought it to my attention.

    I’m not exactly sure how anyone can really “help” with this situation. Your husband is being a typically male ass, and what he needs is a male acquaintance to tell him this … bluntly! However, I can see that that presents all sorts of possible problems.

    I am also not so sure that your strategy of “waiting patiently” is still viable. Your husband’s use of pornography as a “displacement activity” is really a method for him to avoid the reality of how to re-think what your sex life may need to become together. He’s probably terrified of actually dealing with this, and the best way to deal with that would be to drag him to see a sexual counselor or therapist, but getting him to do that could also be a struggle.

    The one thing that I am very sure about is that letting things go on as they are is going to get neither of you to anywhere near the necessary goal for all concerned … which is going to have to start with an honest conversation about what that goal needs to be!

    Amy

  12. What precautionary measures do you take for yourself when performing oral sex on your partner?

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear GGC:

    Well … I no longer have the opportunity to perform any form of sexual activity with my former husband since he died of his cancer some year ago. (There was no way you would have to have known this.) However, if you are referring to avoidance of any risk that I might “catch” my husband’s cancer as a consequence of oral sex, this is not actually a possibility. Or perhaps what I should say is that no one has ever identified a single case of prostate cancer being transmitted from one patient to another through oral sex.

    So, the only form of “precautionary measure” that I ever took was to make it very clear to my husband in my usual charming way that, if I ever found out he had been fooling around with someone else, he would be in deep doodoo at a depth that would make him distinctly unhappy!

    If you are really concerned about needing to take some form of “precautionary measure”, then the simplest one is to put a condom on for him. That will be a precaution against all sorts of things that are much more likely to be problematic than a risk for “catching” his cancer. One of the more common such risks is that men who have had surgery can leak urine when they have an orgasm … and that can be a distinct “turn off” (or so I am told).

    Amy

  13. Dear Amy:

    This will be my last post in here — my husband of 40+ years passed away a little more than a week ago from Stage IV metastatic prostate cancer.

    My hope is that all wives/partners will realize that this is a devastating disease for men. Everything they knew about intimate relationships changes — the rules change with a diagnosis such as my husband had.

    I believe it is important to talk about what loving someone is all about — for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, til death do you part. … For me, when I took those vows, I meant them — and I loved my husband so very much and still do — I respected him and he respected me — And I knew that if the situation were reversed, he would have been my primary caretaker too — We would have worked together, as we did with his disease and the prognosis.

    I am in no way trying to upset or shame anyone who is more concerned with the intimacy part than the person who is battling something so horribly devastating, but for me, sex was the last thing I was concerned with after receiving that diagnosis — We held hands — We took short walks together hand in hand — We kissed — We talked a lot — I wanted my husband to be healed so we could celebrate our 50th anniversary together. I wanted my husband and I to be able to dance together longer — It breaks my heart that he is gone, but I am thankful he went peacefully with me and our two children at his bedside.

    This is a life-changing disease, and it may take the men a while to absorb the impact. It will take the wives/partners a while to absorb the impact that this disease will have on both of their lives.

    Again, for me, losing intimacy was never important to me after we got that diagnosis — Stage IV metastatic prostate cancer — The issue for me was getting him the best treatment available to keep him as healthy as possible and let him know that he was worth my time — my love — my being at his side, to love him through it … til the very end.

    God bless each and every one of you! I am praying that the issues that are important to you are resolved in a positive way.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Thank you Ellen … and I am so sorry to hear of your loss …

    Amy

  14. I commend you Ellen for your awesome stand that you took during this devastating time of your life. You will be rewarded for your actions. Stay blessed.

  15. Hi Ellen, your post reveals you have the goodness in a woman I have sorely missed all my life, so may your recover, and live on and with a fine memory of a good man. I am 71, and faced with a battle without partner or children, yet I find wonderment in each day of life I have.

    All the very best regards,

    Patrick Turner

  16. Thank you. One day at a time. God Speed! God bless you all.

  17. Hi Ellen.

    What a great post and perspective on love, and a tough journey. I am convinced that all women and caregivers handle this differently. It’s a ray of light to hear your husband’s, and your story. I also took care of my husband and his metastatic prostate cancer — for 13 years. Unique journey of extreme ups, and extreme downs. But I never gave up because I needed to know, in the depths of my heart, that I did everything humanly possible to help him.

    God bless.

  18. Patrick,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Enjoy your life to the fullest extent! Thank you for your kindness. Thank you too, Jan and Amy. Bless you all! Praying for all involved in battling prostate cancer and the caregivers and partners. It isn’t a “patient” only disease … but a “family” thing. God Speed!

  19. Hi Amy:

    My husband had his prostate removed 6 years ago. We have tried pills, vacuum pumps, and injections, but all to no avail.

    We also brought the pump that you use in the shower, but the worst of it is it’s just been sitting here only. We tried it once 6 years ago. It’s like he has lost interest and I am avoiding it all because I feel it’s going to be just like the rest a disappointment.

    Not sure what to do

    *****

    Dear Cherie:

    When one tries all sorts of ways to recover something one has lost, and one suffers a constant stream of failures to achieve the desired outcome, it is hardly surprising if one stops trying. This seems to be what has happened to you and your husband. And I am sorry that you have both had to go through this — both together and (in a sense) separately.

    So, what to do …?

    Perhaps it is time to take an entirely different approach, which is to rethink the nature of your and your husband’s relationship. Apparently you have, to a significant extent, maybe lost the sparks that brought you together in the first place. In which case you either need to re-find them or you need to find some new sparks. To roll out a tired old phrase, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” But you and your husband aren’t insane, you have simply run out of ideas to get yourselves charged up and willing to take risks.

    You need to turn yourself back into someone your husband really wants to “date”. So, what are you going to make him do with you that would be really fun? Things that will make you laugh together and hug each other with excitement, and make each of think, “NOW I remember why I married this man/woman. And if that all leads to sex, what risks are you both willing to take to make each other feel happy? Even if it involves things you have never done together before?

    And what can you drag him off to do that you know he has always wanted to do? Can you make him go skydiving with you?

    My point is that the “routine” of failure to have successful traditional intercourse is based on the delusion that successful, traditional intercourse should be the goal. I would respectfully suggest to you that, before you get there, you may need to get back to the sheer pleasure of being in each other’s company and doing things together you have never done before.

    And then … if you both really still need the whole “penetration” thing too, there are some really good types of penile implant available that some couples absolutely swear by … but they aren’t for everyone and if you go down that path make sure it is done by a surgeon who is really skilled at this.

    Hope this helps … if only a little …

    Amy

  20. Ellen,

    Thank you so much for your post. It is exactly what I needed. I love my husband of 30 years more than I can say, but have been feeling somewhat selfish regarding what our wonderful sex life is like now. I needed to see your post today so that I can pick myself up and focus on the love of my life and the father of our two kids … and I saw it just in the nick of time.

    Debbie

  21. I am so thankful that my post has given you what you needed today. God is never too late. It makes my heart happy to read your post. I am praying for both you and your husband and your two children as well. Tough road ahead, but I wouldn’t have missed holding hands, the walks, the talks with my husband — for anything in the world. Prayers and hugs for all of you! You are a gem! GOD BLESS YOU all!

  22. Amy,

    I have been recovering from having my prostate removed due to cancer. Before the surgery I really did not have any urge to have sex with women. I lost my wife 5 years ago due to cancer and I just kept busy by taking care of our home and also my wife’s grave. I am doing well in my recovery but cannot understand why I have these sexual desires? Is this a normal feeling that I should have?

    Thank you for your time

    Steve

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Steve:

    The human body is a strange thing, and sometimes difficult to explain.

    As a woman, I am aware that men’s interest in sexual intercourse is driven by biological factors that can often (but not always) be rather different to those of women.

    Your prior disinterest in sex, after the death of your wife, may well have been a part of the grieving process, but it may also be that biological and endocrine changes induced by your surgery have led to re-stimulation of your testosterone levels, and that this has led to a renewed interest in sex.

    Can I tell you this for sure? No, I can’t. Do I know if this is “normal”? No, I don’t. Do I think you should be in any way concerned about this? No, I honestly don’t. And if you were to ask me if I thought this was in any way a “betrayal” of your prior feelings for and relationship with your wife, my answer would be, “No, I don’t.”

    I think this is just human biology doing what it does, and it can vary vastly from person to person.

    The degree to which you may feel you want to act on this set of feelings by seeking a willing partner is a whole different question that you are going to have to work out for yourself, however.

    Hope this is helpful … if not very informative

    Amy

  23. Hi Amy.

    I am at a loss for help with this issue. I am dating a man 7 years post-surgery. He is 69 and totally turns me on. I am 59. He did the injection once and I enjoyed it but I do not need it. My libido is healthy because he rocks my boat. But when he said he wants to do the injection I have said no because I do not need the erection because we do other things that cause me to orgasm. But am I wrong in saying please do not? Is his pleasure more stimulating after an injection? We are just dating and I am crazy about him but do not want to be harming his manhood unknowingly by asking him not to I inject because I do not need that. I just think ouch when I hear injection. Thank you!

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Jennifer:

    Obviously I have no real idea why the gentleman in question feels the need to “boost” his capabilities by using penile injections … but I can guess.

    My suspicion is that this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his own beliefs in his masculinity, and that actually, by telling him you don’t need him to do the injections, you may be limiting his ability to feel the same sense of arousal as you say you feel. On a purely anatomical level, of course, this makes no sense whatsoever, but on a psychological level, I can entirely see why actually being able to have a functional erection could make a man feel more “male” and therefore more “worthy” of your interest.

    Men’s psychosexual mindsets and behaviors are (unsurprisingly) very different to those of women. And I think you may need to be open to letting your “beau” take the lead on this one. Stop thinking about the “ouch” on his behalf (after all, it’s not like you have to do anything) and let him decide about that. Although maybe the trick is to tell him that you can’t watch while he is injecting himself and maybe he could do that in the bathroom or you could tell him you’ll be “up in 5 minutes”.

    Amy

  24. Hi Amy,

    My husband had just had his prostate removed due to cancer. It has been 6 weeks now.

    I just need advice on how to be patient with him as he knows that I want sex but I don’t want to pressure him.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Helen:

    Let me be very straightforward with you.

    The very fact that your husband “knows that you want sex” is already pressuring him. That is not going to go away — either for him or for you. The question that you are both going to need to work your way through is what “have sex” means for you both over the next few weeks and months. If it means “be intimate and have an orgasm”, that can be accomplished in many ways other than the missionary position, and you and your husband are probably going to need to do some exploration of what is going to “work” for you both.

    It is impossible to know how soon your husband will be able to recover a level of erectile function that will allow “traditional” penetrative intercourse to work well for either of you — but it will certainly take time, and it could take quite a long time. So — in the interim you are both going to need to “think outside of the box” about what you are willing to try.

    There are many things that can be done to help your husband recover a practical level of good erectile function — from little blue pills (i.e., Viagra or Cialis), to intrapenile injections, and right up to penile implants, but what is going to be more important than anything else is going to be how you communicate about all of this and whether you are able to try things that you may never have tried before.

    Obviously, I understand what you mean when you say that you don’t want to pressure your husband, but at the other end of the scale, he needs to appreciate that you have the same levels of biological interest in sex and ability to enjoy it as your did 6 months ago. He, on the other hand, may have a very high level of concern and insecurity about whether he is ever going to recover anything like the level of sexual ability that he had 6 months ago. He may well feel “emasculated” by his surgery, and you need to find a way to be honest and straightforward with each other about what is going on.

    This is not easy — particularly since many couples never actually talk about their sex lives at all. They just “do it” and have, over the years, established a routine (or an “unroutine”) that works for them both. So when they need to actually say to each other, “Would you like to try X or Y since Z doesn’t work at the minute”, it can be very hard to have those conversations.

    I am quite sure that this was not the answer you were looking for. Unfortunately it is the only good answer that I can offer. If you have a wise husband, he also needs to go find a urologist (often actually an andrologist, who is a urologist who specializes in things like male sexual function) who can help him with what is known as “penile rehabilitation” after his surgery.

    Oh … and one other thing. Your husband needs to get a message (well actually, probably lots of messages) from you that you still see him as “your man” and your friend and your lover. So, make him take you out on dates. Make him feel special and irreplaceable. Tell him you love him. And help him to fall in love with you all over again. He needs the ego boost!

    Hope this helps a little.

    Amy

  25. Dear Amy,

    I am not the woman I was when my husband married me 30 years ago. I am finding it very hard when people say that it is great that the operation was a success.

    I am grieving the loss of intimacy and the fact that my husband will not go down the road of thinking outside the box. I am getting depressed and angry about this. I can’t stop crying at times.

    Helen

    *****

    Dear Helen:

    You have all of my sympathy. I hear you. However much we may not want it to be the case, almost no man ever recovers full erectile and sexual potency after surgery for prostate cancer, and few of them (and few of their spouses and partners) are really willing to talk openly about the impact of the loss of intimacy (and sheer physical pleasure) over time.

    For many years almost no one talked about this, and sociocultural factors make all of this very difficult to address. A lot of people want to “blame the surgeon” for all of this, but it isn’t that simple.

    I don’t have any brilliant suggestions to offer you. I wish that I did. And I am so sorry that I don’t.

    Some women — and some couples — can gain help from counseling … but all too often the male patient is so traumatized by the loss of his “normal” (whatever that means) sexual capabilities that he just goes into complete denial.

    The one thing that I know is that the ability of the two partners to be able to talk to each other about the situation, and to decide what to do together, is at the heart of being able to “come out the other side” with a satisfactory solution.

    Somehow I think you were hoping I might be able to offer you more …

    Amy

  26. I’m a 9-year cancer survivor who had a racial prostatectomy. First, I’d like to say to Helen, “Hang in there with your husband.”

    Prostate cancer is a awful thing for a man to hear about from his doctor. The impact that it has on a man is devastating. So, now he’s feeling less than a man, and ashamed of his condition. It is and always will be a hard topic to discuss. Talk with him and let him know your desires and always encourage him. I went into a state of depression for a while but joining a support group really helped me. Let him know he’s not alone. If you like to respond to me directly please do so, I only want to help.

    I’ve been there where he is now. God bless both of you.

  27. My husband will be getting a bone scan this week and I will be discussing sexual issues before we even meet with the doctor to discuss results. I feel this will be easier now as he is more apt to talk not knowing prognosis, etc.

    Some of the advice here seems very sympathetic toward men looking at porn and shutting down completely without ever wanting help. I will be letting my husband know that these are not options for a continued relationship and to stay together for the family’s sake may be too much for one to handle especially when anger is allowed to reign. Maybe I have a low tolerance for dependency but when a man willingly sucks energy from a spouse without trying counseling it speaks volumes about the viability for a meaningful and successful relationship — as well as the previous strength of the partnership to begin with.

    If he will not hear me out given adequate time and compassion to work through issues perhaps it will be better for both of us in the long run to face our fears with someone else. I am not trying to be callous but many women here are suffering because of egos that are tougher than diamonds. I look forward to our talk before the scan or knowledge of the prognosis. Women seek out help now! Actually we can still care for our spouses but seek intimacy elsewhere if they refuse to meet us 50/50.

    *****

    Amy replied:

    Dear Bryan:

    Each man, each woman, and each couple is going to approach this issue in a slightly different way depending on all sorts of things — most especially the precise nature of the relationship between the two partners.

    What you seem to have read as “sympathy” for certain male behaviors would (in my humble opinion) be more accurately read as “understanding of” those behaviors rather than sympathy. It is perfectly reasonable to appreciate that things happen without endorsing them in any way.

    You undoubtedly will approach this situation in the way you describe. Depending on the nature of your relationship with your partner, this may be a very appropriate mechanism of action. Other couples with other interpersonal dynamics might not agree with you, however. There is more than one way to skin an onion.

    Amy

  28. I wish I saw this sooner. I don’t have a question. My dad died in summer of 2018. I was there every day for him … ‘n he was not all there. He was an amazing man.

    Anyways my dad never wanted to get married. He always told all of us four children that he wouldn’t ever do it again. He said if he wanted to marry he would have already. So the day he fell ‘n went into the hospital, … this chick he met (bar rat) was talking about marriage that same night. Me and my brothers and sister told her to please not right now. We want him to be “all there”. So he has proper consent.

    She told us the night before she married him that she was doing it in the morning without us. My daddy couldn’t even get up on his wedding day. His side of the family, he really doesn’t talk to that much. They are all naive. ‘N they keep the peace so to say …. He died … ‘n she took everything. ‘N on top of it, after he died, she had a benefit to make extra money even tho’ all his doctor bills were paid for which I have proof of ‘cuz I was on his coverage.

    I haven’t been able to live peacefully knowing this. I had to watch my dad’s last breath at 25 years old …. He barely even knew me on my birthday. … ‘N then she took everything. Every memory. Every piece of clothing. Everything. Her mom worked for a huge, well-known hospital for years … ‘n she knew someone who didn’t work for the care center he was in after the hospital. … But she somehow was scheduled in or got contracted in to help? My dad didn’t like this woman …. I just do not understand how someone can do this to him or his children. As times were already hard enough for all of us. …

    My point is, I really appreciate you doing this for people who are going through this and answering questions for them. I wish I saw your posts before all of this. But I’m happy to see the care people put forward to help others. Thank you for your love that you bring to the world in need. I’m sorry for what you and your family has been through as well.

    Thank you

    *****

    Arthur responded as follows:

    Arthur is very sorry for your losses and he thanks you for your kind remarks.

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