Communicating during penile rehabilitation

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Dealing with your emotions after prostate cancer and communicating how you feel

Man and woman in friendly embrace

Emotions play a very influential role in your sexual experience, in your encounter with prostate cancer, its treatment, and sexual rehabilitation. Not only for you, but also for your partner. To avoid emotions is to leave out a key part of your overall recovery.

Talking about sexual challenges upfront

Research has shown that sharing worries builds closeness and takes away the feeling of being in this situation alone. The more you talk, the easier it will become to have those conversations.

Often times couples who talk about sexual challenges, changes, and worries, find that it puts the subject on the table. Making it something that they can approach as a team. Talking about how your bodies have changed with age and with prostate cancer treatment can lead to discussions about what would help to get back on track. It is normal to have feelings about it.

Why do we sometimes hesitate to communicate?

Often, men don't talk about their vulnerable feelings because they think they should be ‘strong and silent’. Couples sometimes avoid talking about their feelings because they're overwhelmed or trying not to burden one another. However, expressing these feelings can help with the process of grieving. Talk to stay connected. It's important to talk about and 'work through' grief after prostate cancer treatment. If you feel grief but don't talk about it, you may end up feeling worse.

    Not communicating can lead to:

  • Starting to feel distant from each other

  • Losing emotional closeness

  • Decrease in confidence

  • Depression

You may feel like you're letting your partner down. Partners may be unsure about how to help, how to talk about sex, and may feel guilty about their own desire to be sexual. Try to be patient with one another as you get through the process.

It is important to talk about and "work through" grief in each sexual interaction. This can help build positive feelings about sex and make you more likely to continue working on your recovery. Read more about coping with grief following prostate cancer treatment.

Working together as a couple and finding support from trusted friends and family can make the transition easier.

Acknowledge that sexuality has changed for both of you. Express your grief about losing sexuality as you know it, alone and to each other or to others who support you. Remember good feelings about your sexual relationship, and use them as a way to have confidence about the future. Communicate about new sexual needs and roles.

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