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Alicia_MSW
Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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My husband was diagnosised and treated for prostrate cancer

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My husband was diagnosised and treated for prostrate cancer almost fourteen years ago. I was 55 our sex live ended completely. I did pretty well for a while but am getting deeper and deeper depressed. over the last five years he doesn't look at me or touch me in any intimate way. I can't talk to him, he just doesn't hear. Stress is slowly destroying my health and mind. Self gratufication is out, it won't work. I'm losing it, any suggestions?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

I'm happy to help you today with your question.

I empathize with what you and your husband are both dealing with, and I imagine that the situation is not easy for either of you. It makes sense that you're feeling so stressed and depressed - and not only due to the physical issues you mentioned, although that certainly does play a big role here.

As far as handling and managing your overall stress levels, I would suggest that you try to engage in a support group for people with spouses who have had prostate cancer - even if the condition has been successfully treated, there are long-term consequences that you (and many women in similar situations) have to deal with. There are online support groups and support groups you can participate in person. You may find this link of listings helpful:
http://www.hisprostatecancer.com/prostate-cancer-support-groups.html

Other stress management techniques can help not only with stress but can also help improve the symptoms of depression you are experiencing. Exercising (Tai Chi and Yoga are excellent, especially if you have any physical concerns of you own) has been shown in clinical studies to help alleviate stress and depressive symptoms, and it can be a helpful way to get out and work through your feelings of frustration, both physically and emotionally. And if you decide to take a class, you'll find that the socialization benefits may help improve the way you're feeling, too.

As far as dealing with the actual physical feelings caused by the lack of intimacy, there are some suggestions I can offer you as well. Self-gratification often doesn't work for many women because they attach a feeling of shame onto it - but if you are able to incorporate this and realize there is absolutely nothing wrong with physically gratifying yourself in such a situation (either with or without your husband's assistance) - such as using sexual aids and tools, then you may find that this helps, at least in a small way, from time to time. Many men who undergo treatment for prostate cancer often experience a severe dip in libido, whether this is due to impotence caused by their treatment or the actual mental and emotional consequences of the condition. You've been dealing with this situation for a long time (if you were 55 when this first happened), but I would suggest that you think about talking to a sex therapist or a couples counselor. This is such an important issue, and you should not have to suffer on your own like this. There is a study that has shown that therapy (counseling) can improve intimacy and the sex lives of couples after prostate cancer treatment (even if it's already been a long time since he's been treated.)
You might find this article informative, as it discusses this study in more detail:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44669158/ns/health-cancer/t/therapy-can-improve-sex-after-prostate-cancer/#.T-QsERdDvN4

Of course, your husband has to be willing to participate as well, so you might consider sharing this link with him too. I understand how frustrating this is because you say he won't hear you, but perhaps another idea would be to write down your feelings to him in a letter. He may not be open to hearing you if you're actually talking to him - because he feels guilty or ashamed of your lack of intimacy, for example - but if you can write down your feelings and explain what you would like to see change in your relationship, he may be more open to "hearing" what you have to say. I can imagine that your husband is not happy with the situation either - and if therapy does not help or he is not willing to participate, then he may want to discuss this with his doctor, as there are treatments that can help. You might also find this information helpful, in terms of sharing with him or for your own information about sex and intimacy after prostate cancer treatment:
http://cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org/type/prostate-cancer/living/sex-and-prostate-cancer

I do hope that helps. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else. Best wishes.


Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 530
Experience: Specializing in mental health counseling
Alicia_MSW and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you but nothing has changed, my new doctor has made it even worse. He
is fresh out of med school and not used to dealing with lifes real problems
yet.

Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry to hear it. Perhaps getting a second opinion from another doctor might be a good idea? You should not have to suffer needlessly like this, and if your current doctor can't help you, then there's no reason not to seek another opinion, just for your own peace of mind. And I do think that having support, for yourself, is important to help you deal with everything you have going on right now, so I would suggest that you consider speaking to a counselor on your own, or joining a support group, as well as engaging in some of the other techniques (stress management and so forth). It's not an easy situation to handle on your own. Please let me know if I can offer additional support or if you'd like to discuss this more.

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