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A 2019 literature review by Twitchell et al. shows there is ample evidence that sexual dysfunction is commonly reported in male cancer survivors regardless of age, cancer diagnosis, or treatment of cancer.

In their analysis, they also found that many of the men reported negative psychological effects from their sexual dysfunction including low self-esteem, body image, and mental health.

Commonly reported sexual dysfunction in male survivors of pelvic cancer including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and bladder cancer include ejaculatory dysfunction, low sexual desire, ED, and orgasmic dysfunction.

Procedures That Affect Sexual Function

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are often used to treat cancer, including pelvic cancers. While surgeons and oncologists always use procedures to minimize nerve damage and tissue damage, these negative side effects cannot be completely avoided (Twitchell et al., 2019).

How Pelvic Floor Therapy Can Help

Though issues stemming from nerve damage and tissue damage cannot be healed with physical therapy, studies show that pelvic floor therapy delivered by a trained physical therapist can help improve function of the pelvic floor,

resulting in improved symptoms including improved urinary continence and erectile function resulting from prostate cancer treatment (Laurienzo, 2018; Sighinolfi, 2008).

Pelvic floor issues can be multi-layered and complex and often times there are several factors that can be contributing to your pelvic floor and sexual dysfunction. Therapists at our clinic utilize a 90-minute evaluation to understand all the things that could possibly be contributing to your condition: tight muscles and restricted tissues, scar tissue, poor movement patterns, musculoskeletal problems, nerve impingement, dietary factors, among others.

Read more about what to expect at your first pelvic floor therapy visit on our previous blog post.

Importance of a Multi-Disciplinary Healthcare Team

Twitchell et al.’s study (2019) underscored the importance of getting psychological supports and referrals for mental health providers if you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or low self worth following cancer treatment. If you are experiencing thoughts of hopelessness, suicidal ideation, or other signs of depression, notify your doctor to talk about getting the support you need.


Twitchell, D. K., Wittmann, D. A., Hotaling, J. M., & Pastuszak, A. W. (2019). Psychological Impacts of Male Sexual Dysfunction in Pelvic Cancer Survivorship. Sexual Medicine Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.sxmr.2019.02.003 

Littlejohn, N., Cohn, J. A., Kowalik, C. G., Kaufman, M. R., Dmochowski, R. R., & Reynolds, W. S. (2017). Treatment of Pelvic Floor Disorders Following Neobladder. Current Urology Reports, 18(1). doi:10.1007/s11934-017-0652-4 

Hobbs, J. (2020). Physical Therapy Restores Some Control Lost To Prostate Cancer Treatment USC News. Accessed at:

Laurienzo, C. E., Magnabosco, W. J., Jabur, F., Faria, E. F., Gameiro, M. O., Sarri, A. J., Kawano, P. R., Yamamoto, H. A., Reis, L. O., & Amaro, J. L. (2018). Pelvic floor muscle training and electrical stimulation as rehabilitation after radical prostatectomy: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of physical therapy science, 30(6), 825–831.

Sighinolfi, M. C., Rivalta, M., Mofferdin, A., Micali, S., De Stefani, S., & Bianchi, G. (2009). Potential Effectiveness of Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Treatment for Postradical Prostatectomy Incontinence, Climacturia, and Erectile Dysfunction: A Case Series. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6(12), 3496–3499. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01493.x 

**This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.

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