Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Sexuality and Reproductive Issues (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment of Sexual Problems in People With Cancer


Sexual counseling can be provided for individuals, couples, or groups. The effectiveness of these different formats has not been compared for people with cancer. It is also not known whether brief counseling can enhance the impact of medical treatments, such as those used to overcome erectile dysfunction or dyspareunia. There is limited research about the impact of support groups on sexual outcomes for men with prostate cancer.[74][Level of evidence: II] It is likely that associations between better outcomes and participation in support groups reflect baseline sociographic and clinical differences between those who participate in support groups and those who do not.

Current Clinical Trials

Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for U.S. supportive and palliative care trials about sexuality and reproductive issues and sexual dysfunction that are now accepting participants. The list of trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Masters WH, Johnson VE: Human Sexual Response. Boston, Mass: Little, Brown and Company, 1966.
  2. Kaplan HS: The New Sex Therapy: Active Treatment of Sexual Dysfunctions. New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel, 1974.
  3. Schover LR: Sexuality and Cancer: For the Man Who Has Cancer, and His Partner. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, Inc, 1999.
  4. Schover LR: Sexuality and Cancer: For the Woman Who Has Cancer, and Her Partner. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, Inc, 1999.
  5. Grunberg KJ: Sexual rehabilitation of the cancer patient undergoing ostomy surgery. J Enterostomal Ther 13 (4): 148-52, 1986 Jul-Aug.
  6. Snow B: The ostomist: self image and sexual problems. Sex Disabil 3 (3): 156-158, 1980.
  7. Bates TS, Wright MP, Gillatt DA: Prevalence and impact of incontinence and impotence following total prostatectomy assessed anonymously by the ICS-male questionnaire. Eur Urol 33 (2): 165-9, 1998.
  8. Shrader-Bogen CL, Kjellberg JL, McPherson CP, et al.: Quality of life and treatment outcomes: prostate carcinoma patients' perspectives after prostatectomy or radiation therapy. Cancer 79 (10): 1977-86, 1997.
  9. Goldstein I, Lue TF, Padma-Nathan H, et al.: Oral sildenafil in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil Study Group. N Engl J Med 338 (20): 1397-404, 1998.
  10. Mulhall JP: Penile rehabilitation following radical prostatectomy. Curr Opin Urol 18 (6): 613-20, 2008.
  11. Mulhall JP, Bella AJ, Briganti A, et al.: Erectile function rehabilitation in the radical prostatectomy patient. J Sex Med 7 (4 Pt 2): 1687-98, 2010.
  12. Mulhall JP, Parker M, Waters BW, et al.: The timing of penile rehabilitation after bilateral nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy affects the recovery of erectile function. BJU Int 105 (1): 37-41, 2010.
  13. Raina R, Lakin MM, Agarwal A, et al.: Long-term effect of sildenafil citrate on erectile dysfunction after radical prostatectomy: 3-year follow-up. Urology 62 (1): 110-5, 2003.
  14. Raina R, Agarwal A, Goyal KK, et al.: Long-term potency after iodine-125 radiotherapy for prostate cancer and role of sildenafil citrate. Urology 62 (6): 1103-8, 2003.
  15. Potters L, Torre T, Fearn PA, et al.: Potency after permanent prostate brachytherapy for localized prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 50 (5): 1235-42, 2001.
  16. Merrick GS, Butler WM, Galbreath RW, et al.: Erectile function after permanent prostate brachytherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 52 (4): 893-902, 2002.
  17. Mabjeesh N, Chen J, Beri A, et al.: Sexual function after permanent 125I-brachytherapy for prostate cancer. Int J Impot Res 17 (1): 96-101, 2005 Jan-Feb.
  18. Lindsey I, George B, Kettlewell M, et al.: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of sildenafil (Viagra) for erectile dysfunction after rectal excision for cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Dis Colon Rectum 45 (6): 727-32, 2002.
  19. Merrick GS, Wallner K, Butler WM, et al.: A comparison of radiation dose to the bulb of the penis in men with and without prostate brachytherapy-induced erectile dysfunction. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 50 (3): 597-604, 2001.
  20. Padma-Nathan H, McCullough A, Forest C: Erectile dysfunction secondary to nerve-sparing radical retropubic prostatectomy: comparative phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor efficacy for therapy and novel prevention strategies. Curr Urol Rep 5 (6): 467-71, 2004.
  21. Schwartz EJ, Wong P, Graydon RJ: Sildenafil preserves intracorporeal smooth muscle after radical retropubic prostatectomy. J Urol 171 (2 Pt 1): 771-4, 2004.
  22. McCullough AR: Prevention and management of erectile dysfunction following radical prostatectomy. Urol Clin North Am 28 (3): 613-27, 2001.
  23. Incrocci L, Slagter C, Slob AK, et al.: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study to assess the efficacy of tadalafil (Cialis) in the treatment of erectile dysfunction following three-dimensional conformal external-beam radiotherapy for prostatic carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 66 (2): 439-44, 2006.
  24. Shabsigh R: Therapy of ED: PDE-5 Inhibitors. Endocrine 23 (2-3): 135-41, 2004 Mar-Apr.
  25. Whitehill D: Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis: what's the difference? S D J Med 58 (4): 129-30, 2005.
  26. Montorsi F, Althof SE: Partner responses to sildenafil citrate (Viagra) treatment of erectile dysfunction. Urology 63 (4): 762-7, 2004.
  27. Brock G, Nehra A, Lipshultz LI, et al.: Safety and efficacy of vardenafil for the treatment of men with erectile dysfunction after radical retropubic prostatectomy. J Urol 170 (4 Pt 1): 1278-83, 2003.
  28. Nehra A, Grantmyre J, Nadel A, et al.: Vardenafil improved patient satisfaction with erectile hardness, orgasmic function and sexual experience in men with erectile dysfunction following nerve sparing radical prostatectomy. J Urol 173 (6): 2067-71, 2005.
  29. Dewire DM, Todd E, Meyers P: Patient satisfaction with current impotence therapy. Wis Med J 94 (10): 542-4, 1995.
  30. Jarow JP, Nana-Sinkam P, Sabbagh M, et al.: Outcome analysis of goal directed therapy for impotence. J Urol 155 (5): 1609-12, 1996.
  31. Hanash KA: Comparative results of goal oriented therapy for erectile dysfunction. J Urol 157 (6): 2135-8, 1997.
  32. Levine LA: External devices for treatment of erectile dysfunction. Endocrine 23 (2-3): 157-60, 2004 Mar-Apr.
  33. Mydlo JH, Viterbo R, Crispen P: Use of combined intracorporal injection and a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor therapy for men with a suboptimal response to sildenafil and/or vardenafil monotherapy after radical retropubic prostatectomy. BJU Int 95 (6): 843-6, 2005.
  34. Sexton WJ, Benedict JF, Jarow JP: Comparison of long-term outcomes of penile prostheses and intracavernosal injection therapy. J Urol 159 (3): 811-5, 1998.
  35. Lewis RW: Long-term results of penile prosthetic implants. Urol Clin North Am 22 (4): 847-56, 1995.
  36. Milbank AJ, Montague DK: Surgical management of erectile dysfunction. Endocrine 23 (2-3): 161-5, 2004 Mar-Apr.
  37. Schover LR, Fouladi RT, Warneke CL, et al.: The use of treatments for erectile dysfunction among survivors of prostate carcinoma. Cancer 95 (11): 2397-407, 2002.
  38. Schover LR: Sexuality and Fertility After Cancer. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 1997.
  39. Kaplan HS: The Evaluation of Sexual Disorders: Psychological and Medical Aspects. New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel Inc, 1983.
  40. Lue TF: Contemporary Diagnosis and Management of Male Erectile Dysfunction. Newton, Pa: Handbooks in Health Care, 1999.
  41. Costabile RA: Cancer and male sexual dysfunction. Oncology (Huntingt) 14 (2): 195-200, 203; discussion 203-5, 2000.
  42. Rivas DA, Chancellor MB: Management of erectile dysfunction. In: Sipski ML, Alexander CJ, eds.: Sexual Function in People With Disability and Chronic Illness. Gaithersburg, Md: Aspen Publishers, Inc, 1997, pp 429-464.
  43. Ducharme SH, Gill KM: Management of other male sexual dysfunctions. In: Sipski ML, Alexander CJ, eds.: Sexual Function in People With Disability and Chronic Illness. Gaithersburg, Md: Aspen Publishers, Inc, 1997, pp 465-486.
  44. Zilbergeld B: The New Male Sexuality. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1992.
  45. Ayton RA, Darling GM, Murkies AL, et al.: A comparative study of safety and efficacy of continuous low dose oestradiol released from a vaginal ring compared with conjugated equine oestrogen vaginal cream in the treatment of postmenopausal urogenital atrophy. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 103 (4): 351-8, 1996.
  46. Baker VL: Alternatives to oral estrogen replacement. Transdermal patches, percutaneous gels, vaginal creams and rings, implants, other methods of delivery. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 21 (2): 271-97, 1994.
  47. Eriksen B: A randomized, open, parallel-group study on the preventive effect of an estradiol-releasing vaginal ring (Estring) on recurrent urinary tract infections in postmenopausal women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 180 (5): 1072-9, 1999.
  48. Rioux JE, Devlin C, Gelfand MM, et al.: 17beta-estradiol vaginal tablet versus conjugated equine estrogen vaginal cream to relieve menopausal atrophic vaginitis. Menopause 7 (3): 156-61, 2000 May-Jun.
  49. Roth AJ, Carter J, Nelson CJ: Sexuality after cancer. In: Holland JC, Breitbart WS, Jacobsen PB, et al., eds.: Psycho-oncology. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2010, pp 245-50.
  50. Lamb MA: Sexuality and Sexual Functioning. In: McCorkle R, Grant M, Frank-Stromborg M, et al., eds.: Cancer Nursing: A Comprehensive Textbook. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 1996, pp 1105-1127.
  51. Parkinson N, Pratt H: Clinical nurse specialists and the psychosexual needs of patients with gynaecological cancer. J Br Menopause Soc 11 (1): 33-5, 2005.
  52. Ganz PA, Greendale GA, Petersen L, et al.: Managing menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Natl Cancer Inst 92 (13): 1054-64, 2000.
  53. Josefson D: FDA approves device for female sexual dysfunction. BMJ 320 (7247): 1427, 2000.
  54. Munarriz R, Maitland S, Garcia SP, et al.: A prospective duplex Doppler ultrasonographic study in women with sexual arousal disorder to objectively assess genital engorgement induced by EROS therapy. J Sex Marital Ther 29 (Suppl 1): 85-94, 2003.
  55. Schroder M, Mell LK, Hurteau JA, et al.: Clitoral therapy device for treatment of sexual dysfunction in irradiated cervical cancer patients. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 61 (4): 1078-86, 2005.
  56. Wilson SK, Delk JR 2nd, Billups KL: Treating symptoms of female sexual arousal disorder with the Eros-Clitoral Therapy Device. J Gend Specif Med 4 (2): 54-8, 2001.
  57. Kaplan HS: The Sexual Desire Disorders. New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel, Inc, 1995.
  58. Whipple B, McGreer KB: Management of female sexual dysfunction. In: Sipski ML, Alexander CJ, eds.: Sexual Function in People With Disability and Chronic Illness. Gaithersburg, Md: Aspen Publishers, Inc, 1997, pp 511-536.
  59. Shifren JL, Braunstein GD, Simon JA, et al.: Transdermal testosterone treatment in women with impaired sexual function after oophorectomy. N Engl J Med 343 (10): 682-8, 2000.
  60. Goldstat R, Briganti E, Tran J, et al.: Transdermal testosterone therapy improves well-being, mood, and sexual function in premenopausal women. Menopause 10 (5): 390-8, 2003 Sep-Oct.
  61. Braunstein GD, Sundwall DA, Katz M, et al.: Safety and efficacy of a testosterone patch for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in surgically menopausal women: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 165 (14): 1582-9, 2005.
  62. Buster JE, Kingsberg SA, Aguirre O, et al.: Testosterone patch for low sexual desire in surgically menopausal women: a randomized trial. Obstet Gynecol 105 (5 Pt 1): 944-52, 2005.
  63. Simon J, Braunstein G, Nachtigall L, et al.: Testosterone patch increases sexual activity and desire in surgically menopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 90 (9): 5226-33, 2005.
  64. Nathorst-Böös J, Flöter A, Jarkander-Rolff M, et al.: Treatment with percutanous testosterone gel in postmenopausal women with decreased libido--effects on sexuality and psychological general well-being. Maturitas 53 (1): 11-8, 2006.
  65. Shifren JL, Davis SR, Moreau M, et al.: Testosterone patch for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in naturally menopausal women: results from the INTIMATE NM1 Study. Menopause 13 (5): 770-9, 2006 Sep-Oct.
  66. Barton DL, Wender DB, Sloan JA, et al.: Randomized controlled trial to evaluate transdermal testosterone in female cancer survivors with decreased libido; North Central Cancer Treatment Group protocol N02C3. J Natl Cancer Inst 99 (9): 672-9, 2007.
  67. Davis SR, Moreau M, Kroll R, et al.: Testosterone for low libido in postmenopausal women not taking estrogen. N Engl J Med 359 (19): 2005-17, 2008.
  68. Inskip PD: Pelvic radiotherapy, sex hormones, and breast cancer. Cancer Causes Control 5 (5): 471-8, 1994.
  69. Zumoff B: Hormonal profiles in women with breast cancer. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 21 (4): 751-72, 1994.
  70. Hofling M, Hirschberg AL, Skoog L, et al.: Testosterone inhibits estrogen/progestogen-induced breast cell proliferation in postmenopausal women. Menopause 14 (2): 183-90, 2007 Mar-Apr.
  71. van Staa TP, Sprafka JM: Study of adverse outcomes in women using testosterone therapy. Maturitas 62 (1): 76-80, 2009.
  72. Schover LR, Jenkins R, Sui D, et al.: Randomized trial of peer counseling on reproductive health in African American breast cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol 24 (10): 1620-6, 2006.
  73. Rowland JH, Meyerowitz BE, Crespi CM, et al.: Addressing intimacy and partner communication after breast cancer: a randomized controlled group intervention. Breast Cancer Res Treat 118 (1): 99-111, 2009.
  74. Katz D, Koppie TM, Wu D, et al.: Sociodemographic characteristics and health related quality of life in men attending prostate cancer support groups. J Urol 168 (5): 2092-6, 2002.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Building a Support System
cancer fighting foods
precancerous lesions slideshow
quit smoking tips
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas