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A question some women ask:

AM I BEING SELFISH?
NO, ONE WOMAN SAYS


[A woman posted this question to a list, and Benji replied.]

woman sitting alone in a barred window Little information is given as to how to deal with suddenly being faced with complete loss of libido and potency, without any other factors. I have looked for information and have found virtually none.

I have found myself to be totally frustrated, especially over the past several months. My husband had a radical prostatectomy a year and a half ago. I was waiting for that magical one year period to pass and then poof -- everything is back to normal.

Didn't happen and I'm very frustrated. My husband is 42 and I am 34. He is in absolute denial that there is anything wrong with our relationship. He has closed all line of communication with me regarding any "romance" and I feel so emotionally void that I feel like I'm getting to a point where I might break. I have told him many times that it's not about physical sex, but emotional closeness that is important to me. His feelings are that if he can't have sex "like we used to" that he is not going to do anything! He won't make an effort to just cuddle because he knows that it's not going to get HIM anywhere.

Am I being selfish? I know that I should be very grateful that his cancer was detected so early and that he has an excellent chance of it not recurring, but I don't know how much more of this I can handle. He tells me that I don't know what it feels like for him to loose his manhood, but I feel very much like I've lost my womanhood.

Benji replied:

This thread has appeared several times over the last few years. This does not mean that it is not important. To the contrary, it means that it is vitally important. We read many posts on how the men feel. We read about loss of manhood, loss of libido, loss of penis size. Sometimes we ever read about the emotional impact of these losses. Rarely do we read about the effect of the man's losses on his partner.

No, you are not selfish. You are right. His loss of sexuality is your loss of sexuality. However, because he is the one with PCa he is the one who suffers, not you.

Total bull.

Sorry. Those who know me and my story know I call it as I see it.

With every Dx of PCa where there are partners involved, there are two people who are damaged by the disease. There is a man who may be robbed of his sexual power. There is a woman whose needs may be ignored by that man. If there is nothing in it for him, he can do nothing for her. How many women on this list have heard those words with slight variation? After all, it is his disease, his quality of life, his life.

What about yours?

Do I have the right to say these words. You better believe it. Been there, done that and survived.

My story (for those of you who have read this before feel free to delete) is that of a former partner of a man whose PCa probably was the death blow to the relationship. I say probably because honestly I have no way of knowing whether our relationship would have survived without the PCa.

I do know that it didn't survive the PCa. We went through Dx, research, and treatment together. We didn't make it past the loss of libido/loss of sexuality stage. I can't tell you why. All I can tell you is what happened.

I could have compromised. He could not. Many of the men and women on this list have overcome loss of libido and ED. They have found their way to alternative methods of expressing both love and sexuality. Some have not made it. Most of them have left the list. By the way, my former partner and I are still close friends. We love and care about each other but we couldn't make it. We have both moved on. We recognize what we couldn't do for ourselves and our other.

Why am I still here? I stayed because I felt that I could make a difference to other women who were in my situation, or one close to it.

Women, incidentally, always think that a loss of interest by a man is their fault. They don't know why they think that way even when they know otherwise. They just seem to think that way. You have not lost your womanhood. He has denied its importance.

Anyway, I am still here. I met a man on this list and married him shortly thereafter. Not a thought-out, analyzed decision but one which came from the heart and the gut. Also one I have never regretted. Richard has a penile implant, which he had done before he ever met me. It was done in anticipation of what might be, not what was. His goal in life was, and still is, to make me happy and he does that every day, to make me forget every other man I have ever known (and there have been quite a few).

The implant made no difference. I would have loved him regardless. I had no intention of marrying again. These days, it is not the PCa, but the lack of oxygen caused by emphysema which is the problem. The flesh (enhanced) is strong but the breathing is weak. So be it. Neither of us will allow our relationship to be destroyed. There are no victims in this house. Maybe that is the real point. We have both lost something and we recognize that.

Maybe we are lucky because we never had a "normal" relationship so have nothing to compare to. We are not young like you but for those of you who may wonder the sex drive is as stronger for me at sixty one than it was twenty years ago. (of course twenty years ago I was married to a man I could not stand - another story completely).

Bottom line, we are in this together. The loss effects both of us as does the love.

That is why I am here.

All I can say is look at your life. There are two of you who have been hurt by the disease. Do you have to give up your life? Only if you choose to. I have taken flack on this list before because of my positions and will take it again. But let me be clear. We all make decisions and we all make compromises. However, if we, or a relationship is to survive, the decisions and compromises must be mutual and made with understanding.

I wish you luck and hope as you work your way through the problem. Don't give up but remember you are a person with love and needs which must be met. Don't drown in the aftermath of PCa.

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[Images are for illustration only and do not represent those involved.]
 

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <http://www.phoenix5.org>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <www.phoenix5.org/infopolicy>.