Losing a Testicle to Cancer Isn’t the End of Your Sex Life
A diagnosis of testicular cancer can be as devastating for men as cervical cancer is for women. However, there is plenty of life on the other side, so here are the facts about living happily even after treatment.
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer affects a male’s testicles and the organs inside the scrotum, which produce sperm and male sex hormones. Though serious, outcomes trend positively: testicular cancer has a 90 percent cure rate following therapy, which rises to 98 percent when detected early.
While the prognosis is generally positive, it’s important to note that this is the most common cancer found in males ages 15 to 35. For this reason, detection methods such as self-exams and regular doctor physicals are critical. Symptoms include a lump or swelling, abdominal ache or groin pain, fluid collection in the scrotum, back pain and swollen or tender breasts.
Coping with diagnosis
Coming to terms with a diagnosis of testicular cancer isn’t easy, and it doesn’t help that most patients are young men. The prospect of living with a single testicle can be overwhelming, and is especially concerning for men worried about fertility. Men often consider questions of acceptance and their future sex life.
This can be scary.
The best action is to communicate and open up to someone about your feelings. Research the subject, know your options and learn the real story from people with experience.
Radical inguinal orchiectomy, or surgical removal of a testicle, is the primary method of treatment for most stages and types of testicular cancer. A surgeon makes an incision in the groin, removes the diseased testicle and implants a prosthetic, if the patient desires.
If the cancer has spread, it may be necessary to also remove lymph nodes, a procedure that can damage nerves and result in ejaculatory difficulty. The ability to get an erection, however, is not compromised. Radiation is recommended in some cases, as is chemotherapy, but both can have side effects.
Life after surgery
Logistically, life after surgery is easy. Most men return to regular activities and their job in two weeks, and can get back to the gym in a month.
Emotionally, life may be more difficult. Losing a testicle, for a lot of guys, feels emasculating at first.
You are not less desirable and no less a man. Any man who survives testicular cancer is more of a man for it, no matter their testosterone level (which changes throughout life anyway).
Surviving cancer makes you a warrior. If you gave up a part of your body to do it, any potential lover will likely agree. Don’t be embarrassed by your body. It shows that you’re a badass who took on cancer and came out on the other side standing tall.
You might be slightly less symmetrical, but now you’ve got an interesting story to tell as an icebreaker. Maybe you’ll even start with the fun factoid that testicles are like kidneys: a man needs only one to function.
Telling a partner
If you’re out on the dating scene after overcoming testicular cancer, the inevitability of having to talk about it may feel like a weight on your shoulders. Share your story with a partner only when it feels right to you.
If you’re nervous about their reaction, mention it sooner rather than later, before you’re naked together for instance. Most likely, they’ll be completely sympathetic and impressed by your personal strength. Sharing your experience with a lover might be exactly what you need to help get your confidence back.
Impact on sex life
Having one less testicle doesn’t change sex that much for most men. Once they are fully recovered from surgery and treatment, and receive the medical go-ahead to start sexual activity, men usually have no issues.
Some men experience decreased desire after surgery, and other forms of treatment may decrease libido, which can result in possible issues with erectile dysfunction (ED). If that happens, don’t delay and set up a visit to talk to your doctor about possible treatments.
The most likely negative impact to your sex life would be if you let your changed body become a problem. Sex is fun. It’ll be just as much fun with one testicle.