Effects on sexuality and intimacy
Some people find that their sexuality and sense of intimacy are affected by treatment for testicular cancer. Learn about how surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can affect sexuality and intimacy, and ways to manage this.
The removal of one testicle won’t affect erections or orgasms but can affect testosterone levels. RPLND may damage nerves, causing semen to travel backwards into the bladder instead of forwards out of the penis. This still feels like an orgasm, but no semen will come out.
Chemotherapy drugs may remain in your system and be present in your semen for a few days. For a few weeks after chemotherapy, you may have some trouble getting and keeping an erection.
Radiation therapy to the pelvis may temporarily stop semen production. You will still feel the sensations of an orgasm, but will ejaculate little or no semen (dry orgasm). In most cases, semen production returns to normal after a few months.
- Protect your partner from any drugs in your semen by using barrier contraception, such as condoms, during chemotherapy and radiation therapy and for a number of days afterwards, as advised by your doctor. See Effects on fertility for information about avoiding pregnancy.
- Accept that tiredness and worry may lower your interest in sex, and remember that sex drive usually returns when treatment ends.
- Be gentle the first few times you are sexually active after treatment. Start with touching and tell your partner, if you have one, what feels good.
- Talk openly with your doctor or sexual health counsellor about any challenges. They may be able to help and reassure you.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Gregory Bock, Urology Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA; A/Prof Nicholas Brook, Senior Consultant Urological Surgeon, Royal Adelaide Hospital and The University of Adelaide, SA; Clinical A/Prof Peter Grimison, Medical Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Tanya Holt, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Radiation Oncology Princess Alexandra Hospital Raymond Terrace (ROPART), QLD; Brodie Kitson, Consumer; Elizabeth Medhurst, Genitourinary and Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) Nurse Consultant, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rosemary Watson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria.
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Fertility and cancer
Learn more about how cancer can affect fertility, and ways to manage this
Sexuality, intimacy and cancer
Learn about how cancer may affect your sexuality and your relationships
Living well after cancer
Learn about the challenges you may face after cancer treatment