Impaired Sexual Function and Prostate Cancer; A Mixed Method Investigation into the Experiences of Men and their Partners (#189)
Aim. To explore, issues related to sexual function and relationships, for men and their wives or partners, following diagnosis and treatment for prostate cancer.
Background. A diagnosis of prostate cancer and subsequent treatment, results in a number of men experiencing some impairment to their sexual function. Whilst there has been some studies investigating the incidence of erectile dysfunction in relation to treatment choice and relationships, there is scant research into the impact of changed sexual function on these men’s, masculinity, sexuality and intimate relationships.
Design. Mixed methods utilizing focus groups couples based interviews and internet survey.
Methods. Focus groups and couple interviews were conducted with men diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer and their wives or partners (n=32). The questionnaire included both closed and open-ended questions, and had the option for the wife or partner to complete a section. Promotion for the survey was undertaken primarily through prostate cancer support groups and Facebook pages with over 190 men and 40 wives or partners of men with prostate cancer from 8 countries participating.
Results. Qualitative research revealed 17 specific categories within three key themes; sexual dysfunction, loss of libido and masculinity. The questionnaire found, unexpectedly, the majority of men said that they had sufficient emotional and psychological support. Wives/partners confirmed cancer had impacted on their partner’s feelings of masculinity (71%), compared to 42% of men who felt that this was the case. Predictors of loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and “feeling less of a man” were developed. Univariate predictors included hormone therapy, regrets about treatment choice, cancer having impacted on masculinity, and distress.
Men are not able to clearly identify the challenges prostate cancer brings especially changes to their masculinity. Their partners have identified that their masculinity is often changed, and they would benefit from counseling services.