Study author Leslie Schover, a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues said prostate cancer survivors and their partners experience improved sexual satisfaction and function after couples counseling.
The CAREss -- Counseling About Regaining Erections and Sexual Satisfaction -- study involved 115 randomized heterosexual prostate cancer survivors who were experiencing erectile dysfunction and their partners into three groups: a group put on a waiting list for counseling, a face-to-face counseling group and a group that received Internet-based sexual counseling.
After three months, the wait-list couples were randomized into either the face-to face or the Internet-based counseling group. A second Internet-based group of 71 couples was added to boost the numbers and allow researchers to analyze the relationship between extent of Web site use and outcomes.
The study, published online in the journal Cancer, found from baseline to one year, men improved significantly in erectile function and also in orgasmic function, intercourse satisfaction and overall sexual satisfaction -- while the couples on the waiting list did not improve.
However, "very few insurance policies sufficiently cover sexual counseling in particular, and mental health counseling in general," Schover said in a statement. "Another barrier is that there are few mental healthcare professionals trained to deal with both cancer coping and sexual problems."