By Cindie Hubiak
If you’ve experienced prostate cancer, you likely know all too well the disruptive side effects of the treatment process. Surgery and radiation can have a serious impact on a couple’s sex life and in some cases challenge the longevity of the relationship. For me and Steve that was certainly the case.

A study, recently published in an article by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, revealed a promising finding however. Researchers discovered that married couples who underwent some form of counseling – either in-person or online – reported improved sexual function and satisfaction with sex.

According to the study, before counseling, only about 12 to 15 percent of men reported having minor erection difficulties, the rest reported more severe difficulties. After counseling, the number of minor difficulties increased to 36 to 44 percent. What’s more, at the one-year mark, men reported scores on the sexual function and satisfaction scale that were on par with healthy men who had not undergone treatment for prostate cancer.

What was perhaps most appealing about this study was both the husband and wife received counseling. This is incredibly important. Women experience their own host of emotions that also impact a couple’s intimacy. Both sides need to heal to achieve the same, or increased, level of intimacy pre-prostate cancer.

Talking About Sex
Everyone holds different beliefs about sex and has varying experiences around it, but one thing is common: we don’t talk about sex easily. Our society doesn’t encourage conversations about it, so we hide our beliefs, feelings, and experiences – never knowing if what we are experiencing is “normal.” Oftentimes this can put more strain on the sexual relationship.

We too had our aversions to discussing this issue with an “outsider” initially. But, for me and Steve it proved to be an invaluable step in our journey to living a thriving life. Our sex life began thriving after counseling. We started looking at sex differently and found many ways to reach sexual fulfillment. Often there is a lot of fear involved after prostate cancer. Talking with experts trained in sex therapy can help a couple’s sex life significantly improve after prostate cancer in the following areas:

  • Opening the lines of communications
  • Understanding sexual energy and how to harness it
  • Deepening intimacy and sexual fulfillment
  • Removing mental, emotional and energy blockages
  • Understanding how sex enhances overall wellbeing

When seeking counseling, be sure to look for someone who is sensitive to your comfort level. It is essential to heal at your pace. We’re hopeful this study will encourage couples to seek assistance from knowledgeable people and start their journey to living a thriving life much sooner.

Have you sought some sort of counseling? Did it help? Please share your insights and suggestions using the comment form below.

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Veteran health writer Scott Keith interviews author Cindie Hubiak for Men’s Health: It’s a Guy Thing, a health and wellness blog for baby boomers.

Hubiak shares insights on why she decided to write A Woman’s Guide to Thriving after Cancer, and how it will help others. Read the full article: Sex after prostate cancer? An Arizona-based writer tackles the touchy subject in a new book

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By Cindie Hubiak

In A Woman’s Guide to Thriving after Prostate Cancer, I encourage you to interact with me and fellow readers online. Sharing our advice and life lessons will help us all move forward and live thriving lives. Below, I invite you to share your experiences when it comes to communicating your needs.

From The Guide:

Understanding your man’s loss of desire and clearly communicating your needs can save you a lot of pain and frustration. Together, discover ways he can help you feel desired and attractive. Guide him along the way. Get his attention and make a statement before each idea you give him. That way, he knows how much it means to you. To avoid disappointment, be sure to obtain his agreement. Write your ideas for how you want to be treated on small pieces of paper and draw one out each day or week for him.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Notice how my earrings match my outfit.
  • Comment on the color of my nail polish.
  • Plant a lingering kiss on the back of my neck.
  • How ’bout whistling at me when I walk in the room.

If you find yourself supporting a woman in an intimate relationship with a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, use the information provided here as a guide to talk with her about her experience. Offer suggestions and help her find healthy ways to ensure she feels desirable and attractive.

If you support a man through recovery with whom you don’t have an intimate relationship, help him become aware of what his partner may feel. Encourage him to talk about his feelings, letting him know that many men recovering from prostate cancer feel the same way. Delve into the next section for more ways to support him.
How have you communicated your needs? Which ideas did you write down? Please share your insights and suggestions using the comment form below.

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By Cindie Hubiak

In A Woman’s Guide to Thriving after Prostate Cancer, I encourage you to interact with me and fellow readers online. Sharing our advice and life lessons will help us all move forward and live thriving lives.

We can heal together. I want you to know I am here for support and guidance along your journey. I invite you to share the gifts you found from your prostate cancer experience, ask questions, and provide answers to others. Please leave a comment below with your insights.

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The Wellness Community hosted more than 70 people at a Prostate Cancer Update on September 24, 2011. Solutions for Intimacy co-founders Steve Frohman and Cindie Hubiak shared lessons learned regarding intimacy and sexuality during their prostate cancer journey. They were joined by David C. Beyer, MD, Ali Borhan, MD and Aynne Henry, PhD.

(From left to right) Dr. Ali Borhan, Dr. Aynne Henry, Steve Frohman, Cindie Hubiak, speaking at the Prostate Cancer Update, hosted by The Wellness Community.

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Yesterday we learned that Derrick Hall, President & CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Our healing thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his many fans. We also send those same thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by prostate cancer.

Contemplating this news, I reflecting back on my prostate cancer experience and wondered what I would tell the women in Derrick’s life. While his wife is impacted the most, he may have a mother and sister(s). I believe he has a daughter, and I know he has many female Diamondback fans.

Here are my five ideas for these women in Derrick’s life and for the other women who have recently heard this news about the man in their life:

  1. Focus on your man—he’s the one with cancer. Make sure he receives excellent advice about treatment options and focus on what he needs to recover quickly.
  2. For now, take care of yourself just enough to take care of him. Practice more self-care after he is cancer-free.
  3. Use this experience for growth as an individual and for your relationship with your man.
  4. Grieve. Cancer brings changes to life, and when there’s change, it’s important to grieve.
  5. Stay present. Manage your thoughts by breathing deeply, praying, meditating and exercising.

Steve and I will be participating at an event in Phoenix on Saturday, September 24. It’s at The Wellness Community from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The program includes an update from two medical doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Dr. Aynne Henry, a psychologist.

Steve and I will share what we’ve learned about intimacy and sexuality during our prostate cancer journey. Please join us and reserve your spot by calling 602-712-1006. If you’re not in Phoenix, see if there is a Wellness Community in your area and obtain support from this wonderful organization.

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Solutions for Intimacy Co-Founders Cindie Hubiak and Steve Frohman discuss the release of Cindie’s new book, A Woman’s Guide to Thriving after Prostate Cancer, and offer Fox 5 San Diego viewers tips on how to enhance intimacy following prostate cancer. View the clip.

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Do you really know what tantra is? There are a number of misconceptions circulating about it, and for the most part, much of the information is limited to the fact that it involves sex and that the singer Sting is a big proponent. But did you know tantra can also help you regain deep connectedness with your partner and revive intimacy?

Tantra began thousands of years ago in Eastern cultures as a spiritual path with teachings about sensuality and sexuality. In the West, however, it’s commonly thought of as a practice for experiencing extended orgasms. Though it certainly can help extend orgasms, that is only one aspect of the teachings.

The term tantra means “to manifest, to expand, to show and to weave.” Many physicians have referred to tantra as “health enhancing,” and regard sexual energy as one of our most powerful energies for health and vitality.

Tantra is not just about sex though. In fact, sex is just at the surface level of this practice. For many, tantra is a lifestyle focused on forming a deeper connection with themselves and their partners through self reflection, meditation, talk, touch and even just looking with intent at one another.

The practice has also been used to help regain potency in various situations including post-prostate cancer through specific breathing, self-reflection and Pubococcygeal (PC) muscle exercises. With the treatment of prostate cancer, it’s common for impotency to occur as a result of emotional stress. Tantra works to address the root of the problem – i.e. emotional and psycho-spiritual blocks. These blocks, which often manifest from old guilt or unaddressed fears, interfere with energy movement. Once released, energy is able to flow through the body once again.

Those who study the ancient science of tantra establish a deeper emotional and spiritual connection with themselves and their partner, which enhances the act of love and contributes to a more harmonious and fulfilling relationship.

The practice of establishing a deeper connection with your partner, being present, and being able to access energy movement, including sexual energy, has such an amazing effect on the body. That’s why so many have turned to tantra following a bout with impotency.

Prostate cancer treatment can present a bevy of stresses, fears and distractions that threaten so many relationships. The age-old practice of tantra, however, can help many couples overcome these struggles by teaching them to open their hearts, emotions and sexuality.

 

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It’s no surprise that prostate cancer comes with its host of challenges, but we most commonly associate these with the physical, not the emotional. But the entire process – from the diagnosis, to the treatment, and even after it has been cleared – can severely impact a man’s mentality.

To date most research has been devoted to the physical side of prostate cancer and potential side-effects of treatment. And unfortunately little exists about the emotional distress and how to properly cope with prostate cancer. Yet, these emotions – sadness, fear, anger, depression, anxiety, loss of confidence – can be stifling, potentially affecting your work, relationships, energy level, and overall wellbeing.

The most common culprits of these emotions include loss of libido, decreased sexual activity, erectile difficulty and urinary incontinence. What’s more troubling is depression can sneak up in many different ways including appetite (decrease or increase), sleep patterns, sex drive, mood and behavior, memory, and concentration, to name a few. How do you move beyond these emotions, and live a thriving life after prostate cancer?

There is not a one-size-fits-all remedy. It will likely come from a combination of approaches and resources, traditional and non-traditional, which may include psychology, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, naturopathic physician care, meditation or massage, and the list can go on. It’s about finding what is right for you and your partner. Avoidance is never the solution. Some other tips for moving through the difficult emotions include:

  • Talk – talk to your significant other about the disease and how one another are feeling. This will be one of the toughest steps for most couples, but it is one of the most important. The longer these issues go untouched the more they impact your life and your relationships.
  • Get active – get involved in group sports and leisure activities, or get moving on your own.
  • Eat healthy – a diet rich in essential nutrients – vitamins, amino acids, proteins – can significantly impact your outlook and energy level.
  • Seek support – connect with other men who have survived prostate cancer or are currently battling the disease. There are a number of organizations that provide support groups  for men with prostate cancer.
  • Accept the recovery process – keep in mind that recovery takes time. Restoring potency after prostate cancer treatment is a part of that process.

Bottom line – keep talking to your partner, someone significant in your life, or seek the support of a group, they will become your greatest allies in this process.

 

*Note: This blog entry was not authored by a medical professional.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Solutions for Intimacy, an organization that helps individuals live thriving lives after prostate cancer, has launched its new website to serve as a resource and knowledge-base for those seeking information on a variety of topics related to intimacy and prostate cancer.

The new site offers users access to a robust selection of resources, including quick links to associations and support groups and an informative blog that covers the important issues many prostate cancer survivors confront. Visitors will also find extensive information about “The Personal Approach” and tips and tools for overcoming intimacy issues. A Woman’s Guide to Thriving after Prostate Cancer, authored by Solutions for Intimacy Co-founder Cindie Hubiak, will also be available for purchase in print or eBook format.

“The new Solutions for Intimacy site is comprehensive resource for individuals looking for solutions post-prostate cancer,” said Steve Frohman, co-founder of Solutions for Intimacy. “It not only reflects what the organization is about, but also provides visitors with the tools to make more informed decisions about how to proactively overcome the common struggles that follow prostate cancer.”

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