Prostate cancer and sexless marriage: how planning a sex date can help

Black man and woman drinking wine together outdoors

Before prostate cancer treatment, having sex may have been more spontaneous and exciting. And it’s normal to miss those aspects of it. But don’t get it wrong, sex can still be amazing!
You may just need to put more thought into “setting the scene” for your sexy time. This helps you prepare and make the experience more romantic or erotic or whatever you want it to be. Planning for sex ahead of time also makes it something you can be looking forward to. So, why not give it a try?
Here’s what you need to know.

What do I need for a sex date?

The main idea behind planning a sex date is for you and your partner to explore different ways of having sexual pleasure. It’s not all about penetration. It’s about touch, sharing desire, being playful and open.

Get it on the calendar:

  • First, find a time you can be alone together and get it on both your calendars. Use a code name that only the two of you know, like “check the oil”. Have some fun with the idea.

Before the date:

  • Gather what you might need, like sex toys, massage oil, lubricant, or vibrator.

  • Share a fantasy you might want to act out together.

  • Flirt with each other.

  • Indulge in some sexy talk.

On the day of your sex date:

Create the right atmosphere which will get you both in the mood. For example, you can:

  • Have a bath together.

  • Put on some music.

  • Light some candles

  • Dim the lights.

Anything that works for the both of you and gets you turned on.

Tips for success on date night

Getting your date all planned out and on the calendar.

  • Think about who will initiate. Before prostate cancer one of you may have been more active in initiating sex. Now, both of you may need to get comfortable with initiating sex.

  • Try non-penetrative forms of sex. That is, sex without using a penis to penetrate the other person. Keep the focus on being intimate and relaxed with each other.

  • Be patient. Remember, adjusting to changes takes time.

  • Just roll with it. Keep in mind that playful, affectionate touching does not have to "lead to" anything.

How to prioritize sex and intimacy with your partner

When sex requires more effort, it can be easy to push it aside and prioritize other activities such as work, family responsibilities, social activities, or house projects, even if you think that sex is an important part of your relationship. If talking about sexual intimacy was not something that happened regularly prior to treatment, it could be a little more difficult to talk about it after treatment. Tough, but not impossible.

Some couples schedule romantic dates as a way of maintaining regular sexual activity and to take pressure off performance. They sometimes use these dates as times to check in with each other and talk. Putting priority on making sexual intimacy happen can help protect this important part of your relationship after prostate cancer.

Openness and communication continue to be important as you’re working on staying sexually active. Here are some tips for regular conversations with your partner.

Choose a good time and quiet place, free of distractions.

Set a time and place when you actually have time to talk uninterrupted. Turn off the TV, the phone, and computer. It’s worth your attention.

Relax and enjoy the moment.

Take a deep breath. You and your partner know each other and have shared a lot. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourselves.

Listen well.

When sensitive subjects are discussed, listening and repeating back what you heard is very helpful. You have been practicing listening and accepting each other’s thoughts and emotions. Keep it going.

Compliment each other.

Don’t hold back here. Let each other know what you’ve enjoyed about each other emotionally and sexually, the way your partner smiled, held or stroked you, reacted to you and so on.

Do some sexy shopping together.

Take a field trip! When it comes to sex aids or toys, shopping together in stores and online for something new to try in the bedroom can be fun. It can also reassure your partner that this is something the two of you are doing as a couple. You can both see that there are plenty of options to choose from together, something you both agree on.

Play together.

Be patient as you start introducing any new products, positions, and roles into your activity. Test all the features and settings of any sex toys you’ve shopped for together. Remember to have fun and play! And then, remember to tell each other what you especially liked.

Respect each other’s feelings.

Changing sexual activities and roles can add to your experience together. It won’t detract from it. Sharing this work together can also help to deal with any grief or loss about the changes. Start out slow and easy. Try one new sex aid or one new position at a time. Check in with each other during and after the experience. Unless you both like something new you’re trying or are willing to continue, don’t pressure each other. Some new things you may not agree on, others you may feel more comfortable with later when you’ve gained confidence about your new interactions.

Be flexible.

If, after everything, one or both of you feel hesitant or uneasy, take a step back.

Communication is critical, whether it’s with a partner, or a therapist. Sexual health counseling can help with motivation, improve sexual intimacy, and help create realistic expectations. Openness is essential whether you’re communicating verbally or physically. How and when you decide to engage in sexual intimacy is up to you and your partner.