the issues faced by women whose menfolk were diagnosed with prostate cancer was
being discussed in September of 2010, long time survivor ALAN
MEYER posted what was, I think, an excellent piece on some of these
topics. This what he said:
I don't have any statistics to support this
and wouldn't know whether they exist or where to look for them. However, if I
had to guess, I would guess that half or more of married couples of all ages have
never worked out a fully satisfactory sexual relationship even before cancer intervened.
I would further surmise that the great majority of older couples in that boat
gave up long ago and no longer try to work things out. They either have no sex
at all, or have it in rather formal, simplified, unchanging patterns that they
worked out years before as minimally acceptable and stuck with because any attempt
to progress was rebuffed by the other partner. Tired and humiliated by the psychological
pain of rejection, they turn to other pursuits instead.
Now add impotence
to this relationship and a difficult relationship becomes impossible. It can be
an excuse for either partner to completely give up even minimal efforts at physical
It may sound like I am talking about women who reject sex with
their husbands, or accept it only under specific and not very common circumstances.
That certainly happens. However I'm sure that the problem exists very much on
the male side as well, for example with men who have never really tried to find
out what their partners might like or how to satisfy them, or perhaps tried briefly
and quit very quickly when they found out that what they were doing wasn't working
or that their embarrassed wives didn't respond very quickly.
If I'm right
about this then, for a great many couples, achieving a successful adaptation to
impotence has very little to do with injections, pumps, pills, or implants. Sometimes
those things just enable them to re-establish an already broken relationship that
has to be re-established as it was, even if it requires major surgery on the penis,
because any change, for example oral and manual sex, is unthinkable.
and physical intimacy are so complicated, so psychological, so fraught with deep
desires, so burdened with past history, that the physical issues related to impotence
just can't be addressed as if the inability to get or sustain an erection is fundamental
to the issue. There's no doubt that it's significant, but I believe that other
issues are much more fundamental.
The most fundamental requirement is
an ability to communicate with each other about these issues with love, candour,
and acceptance. With that, a couple is on the road to success. Without it, they're
So, by all means, cancer survivors should share information about
pills, pumps and the rest of it, but we shouldn't imagine that, in sharing this
information, we are addressing basic issues. The basic issues remain deeply personal
and deeply founded in the whole history of a relationship. More often than not
I think what people really need is serious communication. They need to talk freely
with each other about how they feel, about what the effect of impotence has been,
about how to work around the problems and help each other, about how to retain
and grow their intimacy in spite of the effects of the cancer.
a good counselor can help facilitate this for couples who want things to work
but are having trouble communicating on their own.
At any rate, and for
whatever it's worth, that's my impression.