Here are top 10 tips for managing prostate cancer side effects
1. Understand your options. Advanced technologies for treating prostate cancer can help to minimize side effects like UI and ED. Learn about all the options available to you before, during and after treatment. Understanding your options can help you make the right treatment choices for you.
2. Communicate with your care team. Ask your doctors what side effects you can anticipate from prostate cancer treatment, and how your care team will help you manage these side effects. Be open about any sexual dysfunction, incontinence, or other symptoms you may experience during treatment.
3. Give yourself time. It takes time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes prostate cancer brings to your life. Try to be patient if certain side effects, such as depression, pain or fatigue, lower your desire for sexual activity. Also, remember that it may take time to resolve symptoms of incontinence.
4. Plan ahead. It’s important to plan ahead if you’re dealing with UI or ED. Empty your bladder (even if you don’t think you need to) before leaving the house and going to bed. Since levels of sexual desire vary during prostate cancer treatment, try to plan sexual activity for when you have the most energy.
5. Try other forms of intimacy. Even if you can’t have sexual intercourse, you can still maintain intimacy through loving affection and touch. Start out slowly by cuddling, kissing and touching. Give your partner a massage. Even going for a walk or watching a movie together can create intimacy.
6. Try bladder retraining techniques. Bladder retraining can help increase your bladder capacity so it can hold more urine for longer periods of time. Set routine times to urinate. Instead of urinating whenever you feel the urge, try to wait a few minutes and gradually lengthen the time between bathroom trips.
7. Enhance your self-image. Prostate cancer can affect your feelings of attractiveness, desirability and masculinity. Simple boosts like a new haircut or clothing may help you feel better about yourself. Your doctor may also recommend medical options (e.g., devices to improve erectile function, etc.).
8. Get healthy in other areas. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and good nutrition, can help increase energy and improve mood, which can stimulate sexual desire. Also, avoid foods that can aggravate UI, including dairy products, acidic or spicy foods, vinegars, sugar, alcohol and caffeine.
9. Talk openly with your partner. You may feel embarrassed about urine leakage or anxious about resuming sexual activity after prostate cancer treatment. It’s important to share your feelings and concerns with your partner so you understand each other’s needs and preferences.
10. Seek emotional support. Prostate cancer side effects can cause emotional distress, including depression and anxiety. It may help to meet with a professional counselor, social worker, or chaplain. Also, support groups allow you to share your concerns and trade advice with others in similar situations.