At one year, men who reported that they found a successful erectile dysfunction treatment had scores on the sexual function and satisfaction scale that were about the same as healthy men.
One limitation of the study is that about 34 percent of couples enrolled in the counseling dropped out for unknown reasons, said Dr. Bruce Gilbert, director of reproductive and sexual medicine at the Smith Institute for Urology at North Shore LIJ Health System.
Still, he added, "a study like this is very important and highlights that there is a lot that happens if you engage couples or the patient in some type of counseling," Gilbert said.
Couples and physicians should also never forget that while prostate cancer is frightening, so is the worry that even if it's cured, "they may not be the same after a procedure than before," Gilbert said. "That's a real fear for men."
Ideally, patients should start "penile rehabilitation" even prior to having the treatment, which has been shown to improve outcomes.
Urologists should be able to suggest methods of improving erectile function, experts noted. They suggested that if you're not getting all the help you need from your urologist, ask for a referral to a urologist that specializes in sexual medicine, or a mental health professional that treats issues related to cancer treatment, often found at large teaching hospitals in major cities.
Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said "the idea of providing Internet-based counseling to couples experiencing sexual dysfunction after prostate surgery is excellent."
"This study proves that patients and their partners respond to instructive sex therapy. Since insurance coverage for psychotherapy is sparse, it is encouraging to know that web-based help is available to these couples," Kavaler said.
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