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Awkward Auntie Question No. 6

sex after a cystectomy

Ever had a question about relationships or sex that you just can’t ask your oncology care provider?  Ever felt too shy to ask a nurse or doctor a question but really need the answer?  Now you can ask those questions and get answers from Dr. Anne Katz, the Awkward Auntie!

Q: I am a 36-year-old male cancer patient with bladder cancer. I’m told one of the possible outcomes of a radical cystectomy is being unable to have sex. How possible is this, and how does one talk about or learn to live with being that kind of disabled?

Awkward Auntie: Unfortunately the treatment for advanced bladder cancer is aggressive and causes significant erectile problems. I certainly hope that you have been told about these as part of the informed consent process before surgery. There are different approaches to radical surgery and so it is difficult for me to accurately predict what challenges you may have to face after the surgery. What I can tell you however is that while you may experience erectile problems and may not longer have any ejaculate, that does not mean the end of your sex life. Depending on how creative you want to be, the end of penetrative intercourse does not mean the end of an enjoyable sex life. You should still be able to have an orgasm with genital stimulation and with good pelvic floor muscle control, your orgasms may even be more intense. You can still give pleasure to your partner with your hands and/or mouth. Using a vibrator – externally – for you can be an intensely pleasurable experience as well as something you can also use with your partner. I strongly urge you to talk honestly with the surgeon doing the cystectomy to find out exactly what you might face after the operation…. and you should get the answers you deserve.

You can learn more about this great program, find the answers to past questions, and submit a question of your own by going here!

More about the Awkward Auntie program:

Dr. Anne Katz, also known as the Awkward Auntie, is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse who has written a couple of books about young adults and cancer – and all the things that happen to your body, relationships, and sex during and after treatment.  She will be answering any and all questions that you send to or that you submit in the form below. You don’t have to give your name or other identifying information – but it might be helpful for her to know how you identify yourself by gender, your age and what kind of cancer and treatment you had.

YOU CAN ASK HER ANYTHING…. Don’t hold back!  Your questions will be answered periodically and posted on our Awkward Auntie page.