In the United States, tens of thousands of new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed each year. In fact, it’s one of the most prevalent types of cancer affecting the genitourinary tract. Bladder cancer actually has a high survival rate, especially when it’s diagnosed and treated during the early stages.
Unfortunately, treatment options for bladder cancer often result in sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Female survivors of bladder cancer often report vaginal dryness and difficulties achieving orgasm. Men have to contend with erectile dysfunction, and sometimes, impaired fertility.
Find out below how bladder cancer treatments can affect your sex life.
Bladder cancer typically starts with the transitional epithelium cells. These cells are found in your bladder’s inner lining. If this is where cancer started growing, it’s called transitional cell carcinoma.
There are also other types of bladder cancer and they are classified based on the type of cells wherein the disease started growing. For instance, squamous cell carcinoma occurs in your squamous cells. The problem with this type of bladder cancer is that it’s usually invasive, easily spreading to other parts of your body.
Inside your bladder, you have mucus-secreting glands. When bladder cancer starts in the cells found in these glands, it’s called adenocarcinoma, another type of invasive cancer. On the other hand, a sarcoma is a rare type of bladder cancer. This occurs when the cancerous growth begins in the muscle cells of your bladder.
When bladder cancer starts in your neuroendocrine cells, it’s called small cell carcinoma. Of the various types of bladder cancer, this one tends to spread the quickest. If you’ve got small cell carcinoma, you’ll need to have it treated through chemotherapy right away.
Bladder Cancer Treatment Options
Depending on the location of the cancerous growth, the cancer stage, your age, and your overall health condition, your options for bladder cancer treatment include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, and surgery.
Surgery For Bladder Cancer
There are several surgical procedures employed in the treatment of bladder cancer. If your disease is still at stage 0 or stage 1, your doctor may recommend a transurethral resection surgery (TUR).
The procedure for TUR is quite straightforward. Your doctor, through the use of a cutting tool inserted into your bladder, will surgically remove the tumor and get rid of the cancerous cells. However, if the tumor is large or has spread into the other parts of the bladder, your doctor may perform a cystectomy.
If only a small portion of your bladder is affected by the cancerous growth, your doctor may opt for a partial cystectomy. However, if the cancer is invasive or has grown in the muscles found in your bladder wall, your doctor may perform a radical cystectomy to prevent the disease from affecting your other organs.
Unfortunately, radical cystectomy entails the removal of your entire bladder. In many cases, the prostate gland, the surrounding lymph nodes, as well as the seminal vesicles are also removed.
Any surgery affecting your pelvic area will usually affect your sexual functions. However, with the removal of your prostate gland and your seminal vesicles during a radical cystectomy, your ejaculatory function and your fertility will surely be impaired.
Your seminal vesicles and your prostate gland are responsible for producing your seminal fluid. If you no longer have these organs, it means that you won’t be ejaculating any semen when you climax during sex. That is if you can actually still engage in sex.
Almost 80% of men who have had their bladder removed suffer from erectile dysfunction as a consequence of both cancer and the surgical treatment. Orgasm dysfunctions and reduced sexual desire are also associated with radical cystectomy.
Chemotherapy For Bladder Cancer
Chemotherapy for bladder cancer may either be localized or systemic. During intravesical chemotherapy, drugs are introduced directly into your bladder using a catheter inserted through your urethra. Systemic chemotherapy, on the other hand, is either done intravenously or through oral medication.
Although chemotherapy is not as invasive as radical cystectomy, it can still cause sexual dysfunction. For instance, intravesical chemotherapy may cause irritation and pain in your penis. This, in turn, can make it painful for you to engage in sex. Moreover, chemotherapy can greatly reduce your libido.
Radiation Therapy For Bladder Cancer
Radiation therapy is usually done in combination with chemotherapy. The purpose of radiation therapy is to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the body, especially if you’ve already had a TUR.
The tumor may have been removed through the transurethral resection but there might still be some cancerous cells left. Radiation therapy will kill those remaining cells and prevent them from further spreading.
Just like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can also cause nausea, vomiting, and reduced sexual desire. In addition, radiation therapy for bladder cancer is also associated with erectile dysfunction.
Managing Erectile Dysfunction During Bladder Cancer Treatment
Needless to say, it’s important for you to undergo treatment for bladder cancer, even though you know that the treatment can compromise your sexual function. You can ask your doctor to help you manage whatever sexual dysfunction you may experience during or after your treatment.
For instance, if you developed erectile dysfunction, you can ask your doctor if taking male sex enhancement supplements won’t mess up your treatment. You can opt for male sex enhancement supplements which contains natural ingredients.
One of the safest sex supplements available today, this contains various herbs that are recognized for their effectiveness in treating erectile dysfunction. You will find maca, Tribulus terrestris, and Butea superba in these supplements. This amazing supplement also contains Tongkat Ali, damiana, and horny goat weed.
These medicinal plants are excellent libido enhancers and potent erection boosters. In addition, if you’re suffering from low energy due to cancer, both maca and Tongkat Ali are widely-used as energy boosters, so you can regain the strength you need for sex.
Moreover, maca contains powerful antioxidants that can also help fight cancer, so that’s a bonus benefit for you. In fact, maca has numerous health benefits due to its high antioxidant content. Tribulus terrestris is another herbal ingredient that contains antioxidants.