Testicular Cancer

Sex

Men may resume sexual activity after the removal of a testicle as soon as they feel well enough to do so. One man said that he had sex two days after the operation, but he found it was 'sore and painful'. Most men waited a few weeks before resuming sexual activity, mainly because they felt tender where the incision had been made in the groin area. One man said that he enjoyed sex more after his operation. However, there may be a decrease in libido (sexual desire), at least for a while, and this can lead to temporary erectile problems. Some men may feel a bit anxious the first time they try to have sex after surgery.

The effect of chemotherapy on semen (the liquid that contains the sperm) is uncertain, so men are usually advised to use a condom during this treatment, and for about a month after treatment. This protects the man's partner and avoids any stinging sensation. However, one man recalled that he continued having sex during chemotherapy without a condom, and that his partner didn't notice any abnormal sensation. Although there is no evidence that chemotherapy can harm the unborn baby, doctors usually advise men to avoid trying to father a child for a year after chemotherapy treatment.

Sometimes there are physical reasons for sexual problems. For example, in rare cases when the other testicle isn't healthy, or when both testicles have been removed, sex is affected because of the lack of testosterone in the body. However, even those who have had a bilateral orchidectomy (both testicles removed) can still have an erection with the help of hormone replacement therapy. (See 'Hormone Treatment').

Occasionally, it is necessary to have additional surgery to remove a tumour or the lymph glands in the abdomen. This operation can sometimes damage the nerves that control the discharge of sperm through the penis (ejaculation). This does not affect a man's ability to have an erection or an orgasm, and sperm can be stored before surgery so that it is possible to father a child by assisted reproduction (See also 'Fertility').

Last reviewed December 2014.

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