How might prostate cancer treatment affect my sex life?

Looking for sex and intimacy tips beyond the basics? Explore our new guide on all things


*Currently best for people who’ve had prostate cancer surgery and their partners.

After prostate cancer treatment, you will experience some changes in your sex life. These changes can affect your tinana, hinengaro and relationships. It can affect all of these areas as sexuality is not only physical, it includes your thoughts and feelings as well.

Sex after prostate cancer treatment

Common sexual changes to expect

For example, here’s a diagram
of how surgery can impact your sex life:
Mind Body Relationship venn diagram


Treatment can damage the nerves and blood supply needed for erections.


Cancer and sexual challenges following treatment can make you feel down and anxious, changing your feelings about sex.


Coping with cancer and sexual challenges with a partner, or your feelings about starting a new one.

With some prostate cancer treatments, tāne typically have issues with:

  • their penis not getting firm enough or staying firm for sexual activity

  • changes in orgasm or not being able to orgasm

  • leaking urine during sexual activity or when aroused

These changes do not occur after every treatment, so it’s important to talk to your doctor, care team or h
auora provider
about what you can expect. A sexual health counsellor or sex therapist can also be critical in guiding you towards satisfaction.

For more detailed information about changes after surgery, radiation therapy (radiotherapy) and hormone therapy,
choose a treatment below.

How might surgery affect my sex life?

Learn More

How might radiation therapy (radiotherapy) affect my sex life

Learn More

How might hormone therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer affect my sex life?

Learn More

Coping with sexual changes

Many t
āne s
ay that after having prostate cancer and treatment, they initially struggled with sexual changes. And after working through these changes, although their sex life is different, they now feel satisfied with their ‘new’ sex life.

Here’s what some tāne have said about their new take on sex and intimacy:

“For months I thought my sex life was over and I would never orgasm again. I was playing around in the shower, and lo and behold, ACTION! It was an incredible feeling."

Iain — 48 years

“So far I have not been able to get my penis as hard as I want. I do feel angry at times and miss my old sex life. I’ve had to try new things, it’s a struggle."

Sam — 68 years

These are just a few thoughts tāne have had while working to improve their sex life after treatment. It may not be easy at first, but have patience, share your feelings openly and regularly with your partner, and keep trying.

Remember, treatment doesn’t just affect one part of you. You’ll have to look across all 3 areas — your tinana, hinengaro, and relationships — to improve your sexual wellbeing. It will take some work, but you don’t have to face any of these challenges alone. Your doctor, care team and hauora provider are here to support and encourage you.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on How might prostate cancer treatment affect my sex life?, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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