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Researchers studied data on 365 men who filled out a questionnaire designed to measure their anxiety levels one year after having surgery. Men who had the highest anxiety levels were more likely to report being depressed and have the lowest sexual satisfaction.
“Now, it’s no surprise that men with prostate cancer will experience anxiety,” says Alexander Parker, Ph.D., senior investigator of the study and associate professor of epidemiology and urology at the Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida. “It’s extremely difficult to feel at ease when all you ever think about it is the cancer, and whether or not it will come back.”
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What is surprising: How that anxiety affects your sexual health. The men’s anxiety levels weren’t linked to poor erectile function—just lower levels of sexual satisfaction, Parker says. That suggests that anxiety doesn’t hurt your ability to perform in the sack, but rather your ability to enjoy sex. (Maybe these 3 New Ways to Ignite Your Sex Drive will do the trick.)
Parker says most men get scared by the idea of prostate cancer more than the actual disease itself. But he’s quick to point out that a prostate cancer diagnosis isn’t anywhere near a death sentence—the 10-year survival rate for a man undergoing the surgery for localized prostate cancer is greater than 95 percent, he says.
So what’s the average guy supposed to do? Get help. “Some men aren’t affected by this high anxiety, but those who are need to seek out counseling,” says Parker. Call up the free Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network hotline, or find a support group chapter near you, at ustoo.org.