Effects of Radiotherapy on Sexuality and Fertility
Contrary to popular belief, sexual intercourse is not prohibited during the radiotherapy application process. Especially if radiotherapy is applied outside the hip area, there is no element that can threaten sexual life. However, there may be problems in this regard due to the decrease in sexual desire (libido) experienced due to the psychological disorders caused by the disease and some side effects of radiotherapy applied to the hip area. Radiotherapy applied to the hip area in women may cause results such as vaginal dryness and narrowing of the vagina, which will adversely affect sexual intercourse. There are special vaginal creams that can minimize these problems. Radiotherapy to the hip area in men can cause temporary or permanent erection problems.
Radiotherapy applied to the hip area also has negative effects on fertility. Ovaries in women and testes in men are organs with very low resistance to radiotherapy. Even in small doses, both the ovaries and testes suffer a loss of function. In women, first irregularity and then cessation occur in periodic menstruation due to the ovaries being affected. Early menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, feeling of distress, mental disorder, vaginal dryness appear. In this case, of course, the fertility function will also be affected. For women who plan to have children in the future, it is possible to move the ovaries out of the radiotherapy area with a minor surgical intervention before starting hip radiotherapy, and to restore them after radiotherapy. Thus, the patient’s fertility function is not affected.
Radiotherapy to the hip area carries similar risks for men. If the testicles are within the radiotherapy area, even at low doses, the sperms are damaged. In order to prevent this, special apparatuses that protect the testicles from radiation can be used, as well as sperm banks can be used before radiotherapy.