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Hope this isnt too personal...

Ebarrera
Posts: 19
Joined: May 2019

Now I'm reading that the surgery. Chemo and radiation can Cause erectile dysfunction.  Anyone have experience with this? Is it more temporary or permanent?  My husband is only 47 and I'm 40. What else do we have to deal with?

zx10guy
Posts: 195
Joined: Dec 2013

Depending on the location and other factors of the tumor, yes.  This is typically a worry for those with rectal cancer.  It's not an issue if one has colon cancer.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 4759
Joined: Jan 2013

and that was the end of that.  

But, I don't have the same equipment that your husband has, so can't comment on what problems he may face with erectile dysfunction. Just to say that you learn to live with it, becasue at the end of the day, being alive is what counts. 

I know there are other threads that the men have talked about this.  And don't worry about it being too personal, at the end of the day, its the information that counts, so it is important to talk about it. 

Tru

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6124
Joined: Feb 2009

You never mentioned whether it was colon or rectal. If it's rectal they could radiate that area and it could happen that he loses some function down there. I'm 10 years out and they never told me that and today, I'm like Brit, I'm not able to have normal relations with my husband. I'm angry that they never said anything and I'm glad that your doctor told you both as you can prepare for it if it happens. Colorectal cancer has to be one of the most humiliating cancers there is because if it's rectal they poke and prod in every direction and you show your behind more than ever so you sometimes become desensitized by all this attention to an area you never wanted.  I'm alive and my husband and I are still in love 31 years later.

Kim

Ebarrera
Posts: 19
Joined: May 2019

Well now that you ask that I dont know. No one has told us. It's in the sigmoid colon. Do you mind if I ask why you can't have relations? Is it just too painful?

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 4759
Joined: Jan 2013

I am sure it is the same for Kim.  

The radiation damages the tissues wherever it hits, and sadly, for some of us ladies, the vagina seems to be in the line of fire. 

Stenosis is when the tissues contract, causing a narrowing.  I was offered medication in the form of creams, to help, but after all I had been through, I did not want more chemicals in my body.  There are other options, that stretch the vagina, and one day, maybe, I will try that. For now, I think it is my husband who has to pay the price, more than myself, becuase being post menopausal, the desire isn't quite so strong, so its not a huge hardship for me. 

While our situation is definitely not the same as your husband's, I do believe that knowledge is power, and the more you find out about what is going on with him, and what might happen during and after chemo, the better off he will be. And please don't ever feel that anything here on this forum is off limits, as far as the medical side goes. It makes treatment and survival allot easier, in my opinion. 

Tru

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6124
Joined: Feb 2009

Tru has it right, the vagina closes up due to the radiation.  I've tried the dilators and was consistent using it daily (and it hurt so bad), for about 1 year and we did try after that but it was definitely not pleasant for me and sometimes would then bleed after.  Rectal cancer radiation tends to target a lot down there and sometimes doctor's are just not very forthcoming.  It's a good thing you are on this board as you can go back to the doctor with more knowledge and ask lots of questions.

Kim

beaumontdave's picture
beaumontdave
Posts: 963
Joined: Aug 2013

The surgeon told me the risks of the sigmoid section being removed included hitting that nerve that can leave you impotent. Fortunately, It only resulted in retrograde emission, meaning orgasm heads to the bladder, but the first week was a nervous time until I woke with "morning wood" and shared the news with the wife, lol..........................................Dave

Joan M's picture
Joan M
Posts: 365
Joined: Oct 2016

My doctor said that he shoots the radiation at several angles all directed at the tumor which minimizes damage to surrounding tissues.  The tumor gets the full dose, but other tissues get a small fraction so aren't affected as much.  

I asked alot of questions because I remember Tru saying she had experienced alot of damage to sensitive area.  I didn't realize how bad it was.  So sorry to hear that from those of you who have been affected.   

But of course, it all depends one type of radiation and what tissues and organs are in the way as the others have said.  I have heard they can use proton beam therapy for prostrate cancer to avoid sexual problems for men.  Maybe your husband can get that too. 

If he can't, then I hope he does well in his treatments. 

 

Joan

airborne72's picture
airborne72
Posts: 274
Joined: Sep 2012

I had rectal cancer and has been stated, the treatment for it has increased risk of ED compared to treatment of colon cancer.  It's simply an issue of geography.  The results of my treatment compounded the ED issues I incurred a decade earlier when I had a radical prostatectomy (prostate cancer with surgical removal - no chemo or radiation necessary).  So my answer must be taken as an exception, rather than the rule.

The radiation can be the worst culprit, especially if it is not managed well by the radiation oncologist and the technicians.  But the surgery is also fraught with risk since all of the blood vessels and nerve bundles in the region are so close together.  The chemo will have temporary ED affects, mostly libido suppressive instead of erectile dysfunction.  Kind of like when one has the flu he is not very motivated to have sex.

On the positive side, there are measures that can be taken during recovery and thereafter.  Initially, it will be embarrassing to discuss the issue and solutions with your medical team, BUT DO IT.  Too often they are hesitant to discuss it for several reasons.

So to your question - is ED a potential outcome from CRC treatment?  The answer is yes.  And to your moot question - is there something that can be done about it?  The answer is yes, especially considering your husband's young age.

If you want more "personal" information about medically induced ED, simply click on the prostate cancer link on this website.

Jim

Butt's picture
Butt
Posts: 280
Joined: May 2018

I have sigmoid one. I am fully anatomically capable. After 2 or so chemos I completely lost interest in sex. It never came back. I am like a 10 Year old who is not only not interested in having it but finds it now completely gross. Any thought related to penis or a joke about that part grossed me out. Must be a chemo effect on a brain. Or I am like a sweet 82 grandma.

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1720
Joined: Nov 2001

Apologised to me. He cut me from sternum to groin looking for cancer. He even ran tha ultrasound directly over my liver whilst I was openned up. He was convinced there would be other cancer to be found. There wasn't any. Unfortunately with all that was cut I was left impotent. That was over 20 years ago.  My wife went as well. Fortunately i don't mind my own company and in life there are many things that I am not good at and sex was one of them so I guess in hindsight it was not a great loss for me. I do feel sorry for those of you that have lost something that meant a great deal to you and your partners. Ron.

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