Sex life

Breast cancer and its treatments and side effects may affect your sex life and your feelings about yourself as a man.

Men can have loss of sex drive (libido) and erection difficulties (erectile dysfunction or ED). Difficulties often improve after treatment, but for some men it may take longer. Some men may continue to have difficulties.

You may feel insecure and worry about your current or future relationships. If you have a partner, it is important to let them know if you do not feel interested in sex. It can help to talk openly with them about your feelings. Cuddles, kisses and massages can show how much you care for someone, even if you do not have sex. You may both need some time to adjust.

If you have problems getting or keeping an erection, there are different options that can help you. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information.

Let your doctor or nurse know if any difficulties with your sex life do not improve. They may be able to reassure you or offer further help and support. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor or nurse, you can call us on 0808 808 00 00.

Some people may find it helpful to talk to a sex therapist. You can contact a therapist through the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.

Fertility

Some breast cancer treatments can affect your ability to make someone pregnant.

Some chemotherapy drugs can make you infertile (unable to make someone pregnant). You may have trouble getting or keeping an erection while taking hormonal therapy drugs. This is usually temporary and you may still be able to make someone pregnant. But some hormonal therapy drugs can reduce the number of sperm you produce.

It is important to talk to your doctor about your fertility before your treatment starts. It may be possible to store sperm before treatment begins.

Becoming infertile can be hard to live with, whether or not you already have children. Some men find it helpful to talk through their feelings with a trained counsellor. If you need more specialist help, ask your cancer doctor or breast care nurse to arrange this for you.

Contraception

Your doctor will advise you not to make someone pregnant while having chemotherapy and for some time afterwards. The drugs can affect your sperm, which may harm a developing baby. It is important to use effective contraception. You can talk about this with your doctor or nurse.

How we can help

Macmillan Cancer Support Line
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