No arousal 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?”
Sexual arousal changes: Practical Advice
Sex Therapy: Why you might want to hire a ‘detective’
Arousal changes within the prostate surgery literature is lacking - however I’ve had clients go through changes to arousal, 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 sexual arousal research, we need to examine the whole picture. We know that arousal changes can result from physical, psychological and social (lifestyle) factors - changes to each area can affect that experience of 'turned on-ness’, and prostate surgery can affect any one of these factors in different ways. This is where some detective work is needed, and hiring a ‘sex detective’ (more commonly known as a sex therapist/counsellor/coach/educator) can help.
2. My go-to book to practical arousal ideas.
If therapy feels a bit out of the comfort zone, then maybe reading a book would suit you better. 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.
She also provides do it yourself resources to understand your own arousal experiences here (see worksheets). Knowledge is power - self-knowledge is next level power.
3. Go for a jog.
As simple as it sounds, sweaty exercise often helps. 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 also had clients who found generating feelings of drive through another area of life contributed to their sexual drive (I’ve even heard of one man who used push ups before Viagra to increase effectiveness!). To top it off, 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 from your Urologist, GP, Psychologists, and Physiotherapists - complex problems do better with a multi-disciplinary approach.