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Couples Counseling Boosts Sex Lives After Prostate Cancer
Date:9/26/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The side effects of prostate cancer treatments, including surgery and radiation, can seriously disrupt a couple's sex life.

But a new study finds that counseling helped married men and women figure out what sorts of treatments for erectile dysfunction worked for them and how to incorporate those methods during sex. In doing so, they returned some luster to their love lives.

Researchers enrolled more than 200 men who'd been treated for prostate cancer and their wives into one of three groups: one received three face-to-face counseling sessions; the other was offered Internet-based counseling; and the third was put on a wait list.

At a six-month follow-up (about three months after counseling), men who received either the face-to-face or web-based counseling reported an improvement in sexual function and satisfaction with sex. When the man reported his sexual function improved, his wife's reports of sexual function and satisfaction did as well.

Those in the wait-listed group experienced no improvements, suggesting that "time alone doesn't heal the issues," said study author Leslie Schover, a professor of behavioral science and a clinical psychologist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The study is published in the Sept. 26 online issue of Cancer.

Despite nerve-sparing surgery, prostate cancer treatment still causes significant erectile dysfunction, experts say. Other problems may include difficulty reaching orgasm; decreased intensity of orgasm; pain and leaking urine at orgasm.

Many men who have prostate cancer are older, and their erectile function may have already been compromised due to the cancer itself or other underlying vascular or nerve disease, explained Dr. Bruce Gilbert, director of reproductive and sexual medicine at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System's S
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