Threat of Sexual Disqualification: The Consequences of Erectile Dysfunction and Other Sexual Changes for Gay and Bisexual Men With Prostate Cancer

Jane M. Ussher, Janette Perz, Duncan Rose, Gary W. Dowsett, Suzanne Chambers, Scott Williams, Ian Davis, David Latini

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Gay and bisexual (GB) men with prostate cancer (PCa) have been described as an “invisible diversity” in PCa research due to their lack of visibility, and absence of identification of their needs. This study examined the meaning and consequences of erectile dysfunction (ED) and other sexual changes in 124 GB men with PCa and 21 male partners, through an on-line survey. A sub-sample of 46 men with PCa and seven partners also took part in a one-to-one interview. ED was reported by 72 % of survey respondents, associated with reports of emotional distress, negative impact on gay identities, and feelings of sexual disqualification. Other sexual concerns included loss of libido, climacturia, loss of sensitivity or pain during anal sex, non-ejaculatory orgasms, and reduced penis size. Many of these changes have particular significance in the context of gay sex and gay identities, and can result in feelings of exclusion from a sexual community central to GB men’s lives. However, a number of men were reconciled to sexual changes, did not experience a challenge to identity, and engaged in sexual re-negotiation. The nature of GB relationships, wherein many men are single, engage in casual sex, or have concurrent partners, influenced experiences of distress, identity, and renegotiation. It is concluded that researchers and clinicians need to be aware of the meaning and consequences of sexual changes for GB men when designing studies to examine the impact of PCa on men’s sexuality, advising GB men of the sexual consequences of PCa, and providing information and support to ameliorate sexual changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2043-2057
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Gay and bisexual men
  • Gay identity
  • Masculinity
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sexual changes

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