Sex and Penile Cancer

All treatment for penile cancer will alter the appearance of the penis and may affect sexual function. It is very important that both you and your partner are aware of these issues, and work through them together.

Men may feel less masculine and worry that they will not be able to fulfil their partner’s sexual needs. In this situation it is vital that men talk to their partner and explore other ways of maintaining a satisfactory sex life. Sometimes hugging, kissing, or petting can be just as fulfilling as penetrative sex. The use of adult toys such as massagers and vibrators may bring equal pleasure to both men and their partners. Adult films/pictures or role playing may also achieve similar results and fulfilment. Although men may feel that there is stigma attached to these types of sexual gratification, many people all over the world make use them to enhance their sex life. There are also other sensitive zones throughout the body that may allow men to have similar sensations of sexual arousal, for instance stimulation of the prostate gland or nerves behind the scrotum.

Psychosexual Counselling

Following treatment for penile cancer men may often feel isolated and self-conscious, unable to speak up about how they are feeling or talk to their partners. The aim of psychosexual counselling is to help you talk openly about how you are feeling to improve physical intimacy, and help you feel more comfortable about changes with your body. Psychosexual Counsellors are qualified counsellors or health care professionals who can help you come to terms with conditions that may cause sexual problems. Many treatment centres will have both cancer counsellors and psychosexual counsellors and it is a good idea before or after your treatment to ask about these services and how you can be referred for counselling.

For further information about psychosexual therapy or information for patients

Effects of Surgery on Sex

Circumcision and Wide Local Excision

The penis will be swollen and sore after these types of surgery but will heal and function normally.  Following a wide local excision (to remove an area of cancer on the surface of the skin) there may be some scarring and a slight change of shape in the appearance of the penis. You should still be able to have an erection and maintain sexual intercourse as you did before surgery.


The head of the penis (glans) is the most sensitive part. If it has been removed and a skin graft has been used to make it look as normal as possible there will be some initial swelling and inflammation. Once this has settled the penis should function normally but the sensation in the end may feel different. It may take some time for you to adjust to the appearance of your penis. The penis will be slightly shorter.

Partial Penectomy

Men who have had a partial penectomy should still be able to maintain an erection and 4 cm of penis is enough for penetrative sex. They will still be able to ejaculate but it is likely to take some time for men to adjust to the appearance of the penis and they may need help in dealing with how their body looks. In this situation psychosexual counselling (below) will often help.

Total Penectomy

Normal sexual intercourse will not be possible following a total penectomy and although men should be able to orgasm (sometimes by touching sensitive areas where the penis used to be), they will not be able to ejaculate.

Patient Comments

Sex took me a few months to get my head round. It’s a bit different as there is less sensation at the tip – and a little bit shorter – but it’s fine. We are back to normal, takes a bit more effort to ejaculate but that’s it.

Sex will be off the menu for a while. To be frank it tends to be the last thing on your mind for a while. But it will happen. Can be a bit tricky finding the ‘target.’ If you get my drift. But you still have hands!!!

A fulfilling sex life is very possible after the penis is amputated if both parties especially the man who has lost his penis are willing to put some effort into. One of the biggest fears the man will have other than rejection is the fear of not being able to please a girl. This is complete nonsense.

For partners I would say try to be patient and understanding. It’s just that for a guy the thought of losing your manhood, or acquiring another, is an end of the world as we know it scenario. And remember that your partner will still love you and have loving feelings for you – that includes sexual arousal too! (That doesn’t go away because you have penile cancer – if anything I reckon it increases), so don’t think that YOU need to call it a day sexually just because your man has some work in progress…

    We hope you found this information useful. If you would like to submit your own advice based on your experience to help other men, please comment below. Comments will be kept anonymous, but where possible and we would like to share them with other orginisations who are trying to improve the care and support for anyone affected by penile cancer.

    Reviewed November 2023.