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Background: Men are likely to experience deterioration in sexual functioning as a consequence of treatment for prostate cancer. Indeed, sexual difficulties are common across all treatment modalities. Objective: To determine the impact of treatment for prostate cancer on intimacy and sexual expression/relationships from the perspective of couples. Methods: An observational study was conducted including in-depth interviews with 18 people affected by prostate cancer; comprising eight couples and two individual men. Results: Four categories were identified that illustrated the impact of prostate cancer on intimacy and sexual recovery. These related to social influences and language used to describe the loss or recovery of sexual activities; difficulties in discussing sexual activity with clinicians; the clash of individual impact of prostate cancer recovery versus the impact on the couple, and the re-integration of sexual activities into the relationship. Conclusions: Though only one person in a partnership experiences cancer, these data indicated the extent to which prostate cancer treatment also impacts on partners. The study indicates that adjustment to erectile dysfunction ( ED ) takes time, but is a highly significant event in couples’ lives and its importance should not be under-estimated. Consequently, we suggest that relational models of care should be considered, whereby side-effects are recognised as impacting on both members of the partnership ( for example ED, or lack or ejaculate ). Supportive care in this context, therefore, may best be based on a relational approach using language and interventions that are appropriate to the patient and their situation.

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