Effects of hormonal therapy on men

Some cancers, such as prostate cancer, need hormones to grow. These cancers can be treated with drugs that change hormone levels. This is called hormonal therapy. We have more information about the commonly used hormonal therapy drugs.

Low testosterone

Prostate cancer often depends on the male hormone testosterone. If you have prostate cancer, you may have treatment to lower your testosterone level. We have more information about prostate cancer, which has more detail about this.

Low testosterone levels may cause:

  • reduced or loss of interest in sex
  • erection problems
  • the penis and testicles to get smaller (if hormonal therapy continues for a long time)
  • difficulty reaching orgasm
  • breast swelling and tenderness
  • less body and facial hair growth
  • weight gain and reduced muscle mass.

There aren’t any treatments that can increase sexual desire while you are on hormonal therapy. But treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED) may help you get an erection.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help control your weight. Resistance exercises such as lifting weights may help you to reduce loss of muscle strength. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice.

You can also ask your doctor about the possible advantages and disadvantages of having breaks from hormonal treatment. This is called intermittent hormonal therapy. When you stop taking hormonal therapy, many side effects gradually go away. But some men may still have ED. Different factors can affect this, including:

  • your age
  • your erectile function before treatment
  • if you have other medical conditions that can cause ED
  • the length of time you were on hormonal therapy.

Back to Effects of treatment on a man's sexuality

The male body and sex

If changes to your body are affecting your sex life, it may help to remember the sexual areas of a man’s body.

Effects of surgery on men

Surgery involving your sex organs can affect your sex life or fertility. But you may also notice changes after surgery to any part of the body.