Edith Cowan University’s Health and Wellness Institute has found regular exercise can help counteract the sexual dysfunction experienced by up to 90 per cent of prostate cancer survivors.
Exercise has proven to assist men who’ve survived prostate cancer’s performance in the bedroom.
The study examined the sexual health of 55 men undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.
Half were put through a three-month exercise program with the other half receiving conventional treatment.
Senior Research Fellow Doctor Prue Cormie said the men in the exercise group reported better levels of overall sexual health.
“Sexuality is a fundamental part of being human so it is not surprising to find sexual dysfunction has a big impact on the quality of life of both prostate cancer survivors and their partners.”
“The current treatment options for sexual dysfunction resulting from treatment for prostate cancer, including drugs, injections and implants, focus on counteracting declines in erectile function,” she said.
“No strategies currently exist to address the multifaceted causes of sexual dysfunction in prostate cancer survivors, including body feminisation, fatigue, depression and anxiety.”
Participants completed one hour training sessions, including running and weight training at an exercise clinic twice a week over a three-month period.
Dr Cormie said the men taking part in the exercise program reported higher levels of sexual activity than the group receiving conventional treatment.
“Three months after beginning treatment for prostate cancer, 17 per cent of the men who took part in the exercise program reported having a high libido compared with none from the control group,” she said.
“The exercise program also improved several factors often associated with sexual dysfunction such as body composition, muscle strength, aerobic capacity and a reduction in fatigue.”
Dr Cormie said the exercise program participant’s increased feelings of masculinity may be a factor in improving their sexual health.
“Reinforcing a sense of masculinity through exercise was a strong theme to emerge from participants,” she said.
“This research may be useful as a way to encourage exercise participation in prostate cancer patients.
“Given that established ‘traditional’ health benefits of exercise don’t appear to persuade the majority of men to exercise, a lesser chance of suffering sexual dysfunction may be a powerful motivator.
An expanded six-month trial involving 160 prostate cancer survivors is currently underway.
“Preliminary results from this study are encouraging and will enable us to build on and expand our findings,” Dr Cormie said.
Exercise: An Innovative Therapy for Improving Sexual Health in Prostate Cancer Survivors was published in Nature Reviews Urology on Tuesday 8 October.
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