I don’t get the sensation of being aroused or turned on after prostate cancer surgery...

This post was inspired by an email I received from a customer…

“I don’t get the sensation of being aroused or turned on (since my prostate surgery). Has this been researched? Is it a physical or mental issue? I often question “is it just me” or have I subconsciously blocked myself?”

I have had clients who experienced something similar, so here is my reply in case this is where you’re at too…

Thank you for bringing this up, and what a thing to be going through, especially without understanding why it's happening. I'm pleased to hear you are able to talk with your partner about this openly. Here is what I’m hearing you ask : 'is there any clear cause that the literature has identified underpinning this experience?'

This is one of those areas where the literature within the field of post-prostate-surgery life is lacking - however I’ve had clients going through it, and at different times on their journey (again, 'everyone's journey is different' so it's not everyone's experience, but I think it is more common than the literature makes it out to be and definitely deserves further study). 

If we look more broadly at arousal research, investigation into what might be contributing here would include looking at the whole picture as you insinuated - including the physical, psychological and social (lifestyle) factors - changes to each area can affect that experience of 'turned on-ness’ and as you can imagine is very individual so more conversation would be necessary to delve into each.

Here are a couple of practical ideas though that you can start right now.

You and your partner could learn about the latest on arousal research together. I recommend a book called 'come as you are'. Emily Nagoski is a world renowned researcher on the topic of arousal and provides do it yourself resources around understanding your own arousal experience here (see worksheets)

And as simple as it sounds, sweaty exercise can help. Aerobic exercise affects testosterone production (without going too far down the rabbit hole on this, testosterone is one biological factor believed to contribute to arousal). I’ve had clients who found generating feelings of drive through another area of life contributed to their sexual drive. Plus, exercise can be an effective stress reliever (Nagoski's model of arousal takes identifying and working through stress very seriously as part of curating arousal).

This could also be an endeavour you and your partner take up together to help get into a routine and enjoy the process as a team (and research has found couples’ exercise positively impacted a few sexual factors for men on hormone therapy for prostate cancer - Lyons, 2016)

That's a start, but as always this will be individual to you, and please seek advice through your urologist, GP, psychologists, this is a whole team approach.

I am now on the hunt for a prostate cancer and arousal expert for a future webinar…. watch this space!

Victoria Cullen