Sex therapy boosts response in prostate cancer patients: Study

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(CBS) It's no secret that prostate cancer treatments can torpedo men's sex lives, causing erectile dysfunction and other frustrating problems. But new research shows that sex therapy can make a big difference.

For the study - published in the September 26 issue of the journal Cancer - researchers tested online and in-person sex therapy in 186 couples touched by prostate cancer.

What did the study show? Sex therapy, whether in person or on the internet, brought big improvements in men's ability to get an erection. And the improvement lasted for at least a year.

Before getting the therapy, 12 percent to 15 percent of the men said they were able to get an erection. Following the sessions that number increased to 36 percent to 44 percent of men. Even women who reported sexual difficulties said their sex lives improved following both types of counseling.

But they key for couples is going to therapy sessions - 34 percent of couples dropped out, while those who completed most of the online programs reported better sex lives than those who ditched counseling.

"This study proves that patients and their partners respond to instructive sex therapy," Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the research, told HealthDay. "Since insurance coverage for psychotherapy is sparse, it is encouraging to know that web-based help is available to these couples."

Prostate cancer strikes nearly 241,000 men each year and kills 34,000.

WebMD has more on prostate cancer.