Cancer is one of the most feared conditions in history. The disease is associated with severe, life-threatening complications, especially if treatment is not initiated quickly after the diagnosis.
Different types of cancers can affect men. In the US, up to 10,000 men are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
Cancers that affect the pelvis and lower back region may affect sexual function. In men, this can cause problems with both erections and ejaculation. In many cases, the man may find they can still have an erection. Ejaculation, however, may not be the same. Dry ejaculation and retrograde ejaculation are two common complications.
We will look at how cancer, as well as cancer treatments, can affect a man’s ejaculations. This gives men a better idea of what they should expect. It also helps men realize what treatment may be the more appropriate solution in their scenario.
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How Cancer Can Affect Ejaculation
Cancer is a general term that describes over 100 different diseases. These diseases can affect any part of the human body. It starts when a normal, healthy cell goes awry. The cell starts to grow at a rapid rate. It may then also start to divide.
Early treatment usually results in a more successful prognosis. Late treatment, however, carries are risk of complications – such as the spreading of cancerous cells.
In men, cancer has been associated with sexual problems. Some men start to experience issues related to their ejaculations. These problems are usually not a direct result of cancer. Instead, they are caused by the treatments used to address the tumor.
Not all cancer treatments will lead to ejaculatory problems. Additionally, it should be noted that not every man undergoing treatment for cancer will have trouble ejaculating afterward.
Prostate cancer treatment is a common cause of ejaculatory problems among cancer patients. Apart from this, cancer affecting the rectal, colon, and bladder regions also require treatments that may affect sexual performance.
Radical prostatectomy is a procedure used to help remove cancer affecting the prostate gland. In this procedure, the prostate gland itself is removed. The tissues that surround the prostate gland will also be removed during the surgery. In most cases, lymph nodes situated near the prostate gland are removed, as well as the seminal vesicles in the area.
It should be noted that the removal of the prostate gland means semen cannot be produced. The prostate plays a part in reproduction. It is essential for semen to be expelled from the penis during ejaculation.
With this in mind, men who undergo radical prostatectomy will not have semen anymore.
Note that sperm will still be produced. The prostate gland does not produce sperm. This substance is created in the testicles. During a radical prostatectomy, the surgeon will not do anything to the testes.
The problem here is the fact that prostate fluid needs to mix with sperm. This fluid is produced by the prostate. When there is no prostate, it means there is no point where the fluid and sperm can combine, ultimately creating what we know as semen.
While the testes continue to make sperm, the sperm is not expelled from the body during ejaculation. Instead, the body will usually reabsorb the sperm. Men should note that this is not harmful.
The benefit here is that reproduction will sometimes still be possible. Sperm can be extracted from the man’s testes. The sperm is then prepared in a laboratory, along with an egg from the man’s partner. Once fertilized, the egg can be implanted into the woman’s uterus.
Some men are still able to have an orgasm when they had a radical prostatectomy. The orgasm will just not be accompanied by fluid released from the penis. A lot of men report that their orgasms are less intense following the procedure. There have, however, been cases where men experienced more intense orgasms, even when no fluids are expelled when they reach this point.
Prostatectomy does not always mean the entire prostate gland will be removed through surgery. This is generally the case with radical prostatectomy.
In some men, only a partial prostatectomy is needed. These cases are not as invasive compared to radical prostatectomy. A lot of men have a lower risk of side-effects or complications from the surgical procedure.
In prostate cancer cases, the surgeon tries to remove only the part of the prostate gland affected by the cancerous cells. The remaining part of the prostate gland is left intact.
This often means a man may still be able to produce semen. The part of the prostate gland that remains could produce seminal fluid. In turn, this can combine with sperm and create semen.
There are, however, other complications that should be mentioned at this point.
The prostate gland is situated closely to the urethra. It is also located just underneath the bladder neck. This makes the two areas suspectable to damage during the surgery.
In some men, nerves at the bladder, neck, or the urethra are damaged during a partial prostatectomy.
This can cause problems with semen production. Thus, it could lead to the failure of fluid ejaculating from the penis when the man has an orgasm.
In other cases, retrograde ejaculation may develop. This is often due to damage dealt with the nerves at the bladder neck. These nerves contract when a man ejaculates. When they contract, the only way out is through the urethra – which is why semen is expelled at the tip of the man’s penis.
A damaged bladder neck means the nerves may not contract effectively during an ejaculation. In this case, the bladder creates a shorter pathway for semen to push toward. Thus, retrograde ejaculation may occur.
Retrograde ejaculation is when sperm moves in the wrong direction. Normally, sperm goes through the urethra down to the tip of the penis. With retrograde ejaculation, the sperm rather moves upward and enters the bladder.
Effect Of Surgery
A prostatectomy procedure is one way for doctors to treat cancer. This, however, is a procedure that only helps with prostate cancer. Other cancers can affect the pelvic region too. Surgery is often the solution used in the treatment of these surgeries, too – especially during a stage where such a procedure would avoid the spreading of the cancer cells.
Since different surgeries can be performed, men should know about several potential complications. Realizing what complications can develop, particularly in terms of ejaculation control, ensures a man knows what to expect.
We will take a closer look at some common complications that men tend to experience following surgery for cancer. These are related to bladder, prostate, colon, and rectal cancers. Additionally, these may also be complications of penis surgery, should cancerous cells invade the penile tissue.
Nerve damage is relatively common in cancer surgeries. While there are some newer surgeries used to preserve nerves, not all men will qualify for these.
A doctor will first need to do a few tests and decide the best surgical procedure for the patient. The size of the tumor, as well as the specific area affected, all determine which procedure will be best.
Complications depend on where nerve damage occurs. If nerve damage affects the bladder, then retrograde ejaculation could be the complication. In such a case, the bladder does not contract effectively during an ejaculation. This means semen is produced but is pushed into the bladder. No semen will be expelled from the penis during an orgasm.
Sometimes, nerve damage can be more severe. This can even cause problems with erectile function.
Dry orgasm is a term that refers to having an orgasm without actually ejaculating. The man may still feel pleasure in many cases, but no fluid will come out of the penis. This is not like retrograde ejaculation – semen is not pushed to the bladder. Instead, with a dry orgasm, no semen is released at all.
This can be either a temporary or a permanent problem. It can be a problem among men who want to have kids. Alternative options would need to be considered since no sperm or semen is ejaculated during an orgasm.
In some men, problems with nerves at the bladder may cause urine to leak during sex. Urine may also leak out with semen, which can change the color of semen.
This is not a dangerous complication, even with intercourse. Still, some men may feel self-conscious about the leakage. In men with urinary incontinence, urine may leak during sex, too – even before the man ejaculates.
Men should talk to their partners about this problem. If it seems to be a problem for either party involved, it might be a good idea to consult with a physician. This will help to provide clarity on the situation. Potential treatments and solutions to the issue may be suggested to the patient. This can help to overcome issues in the bedroom caused by the leakage of urine.
Tips To Improve And Recover Orgasms
Erectile dysfunction is a possible complication in men who have surgery for cancer. This is usually the case when a more invasive surgical procedure is required, especially in an area close to the penis. This is often due to damage to blood vessels and nerves in the area.
This, however, is not a complication that happens in every man. Sometimes, especially with newer techniques, erectile dysfunction following the surgical procedure will only be temporary.
It is also important to consider the effects on ejaculation. In some men, dry orgasms or retrograde ejaculation may only be temporary. Some methods may help some men. Understanding what can be done after the surgery is important. This helps the man set up a more effective recovery plan.
Communication With A Partner
Open communication is crucial. A man needs to ensure they talk to their partner about how the surgery and complications affected them. Be open about feelings – this ensures both the patient and their partner can understand each other more effectively.
Communication helps to avoid depression from one party when they are unsatisfied yet fear to speak out. This can essentially lead to the development of relationship problems. All can be avoided by simply having frequent discussions about how the surgery affects sex life and the relationship.
Talking To A Doctor
Apart from talking to a partner, men should also ensure they speak to their doctor too. A doctor is equipped with a lot of medical expertise that may be helpful in these situations.
A doctor can bring more light to the situation. They can provide the patient with various options that can be utilized to assist in the recovery process. Sometimes, drugs can be prescribed to help ease symptoms. Several treatments are available to help with erectile function, should this be needed.
Another option is to utilize support groups. Men should know that they are not alone. Many men are affected by prostate, bladder, and colorectal cancer every year-many of these need to undergo a surgical procedure to assist in the treatment.
Several support groups are developed to provide a supportive structure to cancer survivors. Some of these groups are focused on men. This creates a safe space for men to talk about their experiences. A support group is an ideal environment for a man to feel like they are not alone in their situation.
For men who feel unsure of coming face-to-face with others who have the same problem, turning to an online community might help. This way, the patient can talk about their issues and become part of a supportive community without visiting in-person meetings. Some forums and chatrooms offer this type of support system.
Don’t Worry Too Much
One common problem among men who have these issues is the fact that they immediately start to worry. If a man cannot get an erection a day after the surgery, it does not mean they have permanent erectile dysfunction. At this point, there may be some nerve damage. Inflammation is common following a surgical procedure too. These can have an impact on erectile function.
It is important to take things slowly during the first few weeks of recovery. Men should not focus on trying to get an erection immediately.
Once an erection occurs, there may still be some ejaculation issues. If a man has retrograde ejaculation, they may find that urine appears cloudy after sex. This is because semen is pushed back to the bladder.
In cases of dry orgasms, it may be a sign that nerves at the prostate area are still damaged. Patients should give it some time.
If there is no improvement after about a month or two, it might be time to contact the doctor. A specialist can be consulted too. A specialist will be able to perform a thorough examination. This allows you to learn why sexual problems persist. Appropriate recommendations can then be made.
Cancer affecting the prostate, colon, and areas closely situated can impact a man’s sexual performance. The treatment provided for these cancers sometimes results in ejaculatory problems. Men may experience a dry orgasm after surgical treatment for prostate cancer. In some cases, retrograde ejaculation may also be a possible complication.