How might ADT affect relationships with intimate partners, and what factors may help to preserve relational intimacy?

The reduced testosterone when on ADT is known to adversely affect men’s sexual function and often their mood as well. This in turn can have consequences on men’s relationships with their intimate partners.  In this paper, the effects of ADT on the sexual function and mood on both patients and their intimate partners are described. In this study, both men on ADT and their partners were assessed at the start of ADT, and again at 3 and 6 months later. Declines in sexual function, sexual frequency, and relational intimacy in the first 6 months of ADT were reported. Also, sexual bother was reported to increase during the first 3 months of ADT, but not between 3 and 6 months on ADT.

Additional results reported here have implications to how couples may preserve relational intimacy while the patient is on ADT.  It was observed that:

1.    When the partners of men on ADT have a better understanding of men’s emotional changes and mood, the couple’s emotional intimacy remains higher. 

2.    When couples maintained some sexual activity, their self-reported level of sexual intimacy also remained higher.

The findings suggest that making an effort to remain sexually active and partners having a greater understanding of the emotional changes patients experience during ADT may be key to preserving relational intimacy during the first 6 months of ADT.


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Walker, L. M., Santos-Iglesias, P., & Robinson, J. (2018). Mood, sexuality, and relational intimacy after starting androgen deprivation therapy: implications for couples. Supportive Cancer Care, 26(11), 3835-3842. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4251-9