Exercise May Reduce Sexual Dysfunction Caused by Prostate Cancer Treatment

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A combination of resistance and aerobic exercise may improve sexual function in patients with prostate cancer, according to a new study conducted in Australia. The research was presented by Galvao et al at the 2023 ASCO Breakthrough meeting (Abstract 71) in Yokohama, Japan.

“Sexual dysfunction is a common, distressing, and persistent side effect of prostate cancer treatment. Nearly half of patients with prostate cancer report having unmet sexual health-care needs, highlighting the lack of current health-care services to adequately address the demand for management of sexual dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment. Our study shows that these patients can immediately benefit from supervised exercise interventions to improve their sexual health and that exercise should be considered as an integral part of treatment for prostate cancer,” said lead study author Daniel Galvao, PhD, of the Exercise Medicine Research Institute at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

Study Details

In this three-arm study, researchers randomly assigned 112 patients 1:1:1 to undergo 6 months of supervised, group-based resistance and aerobic exercise (n = 39); the same exercise program plus psychosexual therapy (n = 36); or usual care (n = 37). Exercise activities took place 3 days per week, and psychosexual therapy consisted of a brief self-management intervention that addressed psychological and sexual well-being. The primary study outcome was sexual health assessed with the International Index of Erectile Function; secondary outcomes included body composition, physical function, and muscle strength.

Key Findings

Erectile function increased by 5.1 points with exercise vs 1 point with usual care, while intercourse satisfaction increased by 2.2 points with exercise vs 0.2 points with usual care.

Self-managed psychosexual therapy did not result in additional improvements.

Compared with usual care, exercise prevented an increase in fat mass and improved physical function outcomes as well as upper and lower body muscle strength in patients.

According to the authors, further research is needed to establish the long-term outcomes of exercise on sexual health in men with prostate cancer.

ASCO Perspective

“Exercise has previously been shown to improve some side effects of prostate cancer treatment. This data extends the benefits of exercise for patients with prostate cancer to also include sexual dysfunction, furthering the importance of physical activity for these patients,” said ASCO Expert Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO.   

Disclosure: This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.