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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

For Patients & Families
Complications & Side Effects

Male Sexuality

Sexual Desire & Intercourse

Chemotherapy agents are not known to directly affect desire, ejaculation or orgasm. For many patients, however, decreased libido (desire) is common, but it is usually temporary. It may be due to tiredness, weakness, a change in how you feel about your appearance, and a general feeling of illness. Remember, sex requires extra energy! It is an individual thing, but it can take several months or more for interest to return.

Due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, semen may appear brown or orange. This is temporary. Patients receiving chemotherapy should wear a condom during sexual intercourse, for up to seven days after the last dose of chemotherapy as some drug by-products may be present in the ejaculate.

Following treatment, patients may resume sexual relations. Resuming relationships will take patience and time. Communication with your partner is the key. Touching and caressing take much less energy than sexual intercourse and can be just as intimate and satisfying.

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Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and active disease (cancer or infection) can cause temporary or permanent infertility. Infertility is the inability to have children. Chemotherapy may lower the number of sperm cells, reduce sperm cells' ability to move or cause other abnormalities.

While it is uncommon, some male patients recover their sperm production after chemotherapy or two or more years post-bone marrow transplant. This should be considered when engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse. For some patients, freezing (cryopreservation) of sperm, also known as sperm banking, before treatment begins may be an option. Talk to your BMT doctor for more information.

Patients should report any concerns to the physician or nurse. Don't suffer alone.

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