Your operation may have made changes to your body that can affect your sex life. Your surgeon and specialist nurse will talk this over with you before your surgery. They can tell you about things that may help.
Your doctors will do all they can to prevent nerve damage during the operation, but it may not be possible to avoid it. If nerves are damaged, there’s a risk of erectile problems in men and changed sensation in women.
There are different treatment options for men with erectile difficulties after surgery. Your surgeon or GP will be able to advise you on these.
Treatment may involve tablets, such as sildenafil (Viagra®), vardenafil (Levitra®) and tadalafil (Cialis®) to produce an erection, if the nerves are not damaged. They can’t be taken by men who take nitrate-based medicines for heart problems. Your doctor can advise you about this.
Pellets put into the tip of the urethra or injections given into the penis with a small needle can also help to produce an erection.
Vacuum pumps may also be used to give an erection lasting for about 30 minutes. You put your penis into the pump. It has a handle that draws blood into the penis by creating a vacuum. You then put a rubber ring around the base of the penis. It traps the blood in the penis to give an erection. You take the ring off after sex and the blood flows normally again. Pumps may take a bit of practice before you get used to them.
Talk to your surgeon or specialist nurse about what might be best for you. They will be able to explain about the different treatments in more detail. Your surgeon may suggest using a combination of tablets and a vacuum pump soon after surgery.
The organisations listed on our databaase can give you advice and information about sexual difficulties. Our information for men about sexuality and cancer has more information on treatments for erection difficulties.
In some women, the vagina may have been shortened or narrowed during the operation. This can make sex difficult or uncomfortable at first. When you feel ready, having sex regularly and gently can help gradually stretch the vagina. This makes it more supple, which means sex will be easier and more enjoyable.
You may be advised to use a vaginal dilator. Your nurse or doctor can show you these and explain how to use them. Sometimes gels or creams that contain the female hormone oestrogen are prescribed to help ease discomfort in the vagina.
Some women find that they have different sensations during sex. It may be more difficult to have an orgasm. The organisations listed on our database can give you advice and information about sexual difficulties.
Talk to your surgeon or specialist nurse if you are worried or need advice about sex after your surgery. Our information for women about sexuality and cancer has more details. It gives tips for coping with various sexual problems caused by cancer treatments.